- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) - Cherokee National Forest officials in Tennessee are closing the Ocoee and Tellico ranger districts to the public in preparation for what is now Tropical Storm Irma.

The closure includes all recreation areas, dispersed use areas, viewing areas, picnic sites, boat ramps, trails and the Ocoee Whitewater Center. The closure began at noon Monday.

The Forest Service said in a news release that excessive wind and rain could create high water, falling trees, flash floods, landslides and damage roads.

Other closures may become necessary. The Forest Service advised visiting any area of the forest until the threat passes.

Anyone with a reservation should contact Recreation.gov or call (877) 444-6777.

Forest Supervisor JaSal Morris said the closure will be lifted once the threat of storms has passed and damage assessments are complete.

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