updated 9/26/2004 1:04:16 PM ET 2004-09-26T17:04:16

Residents in Georgia and the Carolinas readied for Hurricane Jeanne on Saturday as forecasters predicted the storm would march up the East Coast after making landfall in Florida.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency while meteorologists in South Carolina urged residents to monitor developments.

“We’re not forecasting a direct hit or a really devastating hurricane, but just a good thrashing,” said Rich Thacker, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service in Charleston, S.C. “We’re looking for a really bad day Monday.”

The Category 3 weakened considerably after making landfall in Florida late Saturday. But forecasters still expected wind gusts stronger than 40 mph, rains of up to 6 inches, possible tornados and high surf.

If Jeanne makes its way to North Carolina, it will be the sixth tropical system to strike the state this year, beginning with Alex along the coast’s Outer Banks and ending with Ivan, which claimed 10 lives, most in the western mountains.

“I pray that it turns to sea and doesn’t hit anybody,” said Fayetteville resident Patricia Schafer, who owns a house on Holden Beach south of the coastal town of Wilmington. “We’ve had enough.”

Emergency officials in eastern North Carolina met with state emergency officials in a conference call Friday in early preparation for the storm.

Jeanne’s center was expected to trek along Interstate 95 into South Carolina, where Dorchester County Emergency Preparedness Director Ken Harrell said residents should take precautions.

“If anyone isn’t prepared to be without power for a few to several days, now’s the time” to prepare, he said.

Perdue declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia. Aides said the move was necessary to prepare for possible storm damage and flooding, and to prevent price gouging. Officials also expect people from Florida to flee to the state’s hotels this week.

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