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How Atlanta is stepping up to help Hurricane Dorian evacuees right now

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The volatile storm is expected to lash coastal Georgia, where a State of Emergency has been declared

A bird’s eye view of the eye of the storm.
Hurricane Dorian is spurring evacuations across the coastal Southeast.
Getty Images

As Hurricane Dorian cuts a path up the East Coast, bound to impact islands and cities along the Peach State’s edge, Atlanta has found itself in a role that’s become familiar in recent years: evacuation destination.

Despite the city’s distance from the coast, short-term home rentals, a campground, and a professional sports stadium in metro Atlanta are being impacted, echoing scenes from hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Michael in each of the past three years.

The storm has ravaged the Bahamas and set sights on parts of coastal Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. As of this morning, it’s been downgraded to a Category 2, but with winds still in excess of 100 mph.

“I would not take any chances with this one,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who’s ordered residents east of Interstate 95 to evacuate and urged those in Brunswick and Savannah to do the same, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Dorian is one of the most violent and powerful Atlantic storms to date, the paper reported, and state officials are working to limit the detrimental impact it could have on Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Transportation, for instance, has instituted contraflow—making a highway flow backwards to help in an emergency—on Interstate 16 from Savannah through U.S. 441 in Dublin to allow evacuation traffic the opportunity to use all four lanes of Westbound I-16.

I-16 runs from Savannah to Macon, and traffic has steadily become more congested in recent days.

From Macon, I-16 users have access to I-75, meaning plenty of motorists are or will be heading toward or through Atlanta en route to safety, officials say.

GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry advises anyone in the storm’s potential trajectory to get out while they can.

“If everyone waits until the last minute, it will slow the pace of evacuation and increase safety concerns,” he said, according to a GDOT press release.

Georgia Power officials are also keeping a watchful eye on Dorian’s path, hoping to preempt or react to potential service interruptions. The utility serves more than 250,000 Georgians in the hurricane and tropical storm watch zone along the coast.

Georgia Power is offering campgrounds for those in need at Lake Oconee, east of Atlanta.

Other metro Atlanta institutions have also stepped in to lend a hand to those driven out by the hurricane, according to the Associated Press.

Atlanta Motor Speedway is yielding free space for RVs and tent campers and providing a limited amount of space with water, power, and sewer service for $20 per night.

And the Atlanta Braves are offering evacuees complimentary tickets to Thursday’s game versus the Washington Nationals. (A valid driver’s license from impacted coastal zip codes under mandatory evacuation in Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas is required.)

Additionally, Airbnbs in Georgia, as well as neighboring states, are also available for free or discounted rates, per the AP.

Meanwhile, Atlantans headed to the world’s busiest airport might want to allot extra time, as hundreds of Delta Air Lines and Southwest flights had been canceled as of Tuesday, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports, citing FlightAware data.

Canceled flights from Atlanta’s two biggest carriers had mostly been bound for Florida and the Bahamas.

— Josh Green contributed to this report