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To help its employees focus on safely restoring power for customers and relieve concerns about their own families, Georgia Power has also activated its Family Services volunteers, who are preparing to deploy to areas impacted by Hurricane Irma in anticipation of employee assistance requests.

"In the street right now, the water is knee-to-waist deep", he said.

The governor said he was directing the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to activate the state's emergency operations plan due to the potential for dangers associated with excessive rainfall, strong winds, flooding, fallen trees and road closures.

Monday morning Irma weakened into a Tropical Storm, after hugging the western coast of Florida all day Sunday. He urged residents to store trashcans and outside furniture and equipment in their homes. "Don't go out and play in it", he said.

Belk said most of the problems early Monday are in southwest Georgia, where winds from Hurricane Irma had picked up to 20-30 miles per hour.

Despite the storm, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will remain open, spokesman Andrew Gobeil said. He says the final decision will be made by the pilot. Almost 540,000 people in Savannah and the rest of coastal Georgia were under evacuation orders for the second time since last October, when Hurricane Matthew raked the coast en route to SC.

Jones told reporters Sunday he believes more people evacuated Savannah and nearby communities for Irma than left ahead of Matthew past year.

Kidd said he was not overly-concerned by Tropical Storm Irma's outlook Monday, but he said it is important to be prepared.

Further inland, a hurricane warning was in place for Valdosta and surrounding Lowndes County, where Interstate 75 crosses the Georgia-Florida line.

Winds in the warning area could be sustained at 30-40 miles per hour with gusts up to 55 miles per hour.

The hurricane center's official forecast track shows the center of the weakening storm heading northwestward through north Florida and south Georgia. The American Red Cross has opened five Tennessee shelters ahead of the storm's arrival.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia, said Sunday it was the first time such a warning had been issued for the metro Atlanta area.

Earlier, Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a Category 2 storm.