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An inside look at Georgia’s stormy response to Hurricane Matthew

Jim Butterworth and Gov. Nathan Deal at a 2013 event.

GEMA head Jim Butterworth and Gov. Nathan Deal at a 2013 event.

As Hurricane Matthew was barreling in on Georgia, the state’s emergency response team was dealing with its own behind-the-scenes storm.

Hundreds of documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an Open Records Act request show a frenzy of activity as state officials prepared to move inmates, ready road-clearing equipment and evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from the Category 2 storm.

Staffers were besieged with last-minute advice from other emergency experts, complaints from the media and heartwarming stories from those rescued from the storm’s fury. Unsubstantiated rumors — including an erroneous report of eight dead homeless people — mixed in with the official reports.

And shortly after the storm raked Georgia, leaving four dead and tens of millions of dollars in damage in its wake, turmoil rocked the Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s top staff.

More: As Matthew marched toward Georgia, pressure rose for state’s responders


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