ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued an executive order placing 13 coastal counties under a State of Emergency as the vast storm called Hurricane Matthew barrels through the Bahamas and picks up steam heading towards Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, It could potentially be the most destructive natural disaster to befall the Southeastern United States in more than a decade, officials state.

Officials and news outlets have stated Matthew has already claimed dozens of lives in The Bahamas, though an exact count is not yet been unveiled to the public.

The State of Emergency is in effect for Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Wayne counties, beginning Wednesday, and running through next Wednesday, October 12.

Officials have already ordered the evacuation of Tybee Island off the coast of southeast Georgia in preparations for a massive Category 3 storm meteorologists say is the size of Arizona.

The order directs the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) to activate the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan. GEMA has opened its operations center in Atlanta.

With the storm so close that is why Gov. Deal issued the state of emergency for those 13 counties.

“Folks think that it can’t happen here and the reality is, it can, and it might,” said Butterworth.

Florida as well as North and South Carolina are already telling millions of its coastal residents to evacuate.

Georgia has not yet ordered residents to evacuate the area, but GEMA is keeping a close eye on the storms path realizing it can change at any moment.

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