The Latest: People urged to stay away from Florida beaches

National & World News

FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) – The Latest on Hurricane Dorian (all times local):

12 p.m.

Officials in northeastern Florida are urging people to stay away from the beaches due to possible storm surge from Hurricane Dorian .

Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said Tuesday that waves of up to 20 feet (6 meters) are expected along the area’s Atlantic beaches as the storm moves toward the north.

He says there can still be “life-threatening if not deadly conditions at the beach.”

Lord said storm surge is expected along the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.


12 p.m.

Two Florida men have been arrested for stealing sandbags meant for Hurricane Dorian preparations.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Thaylon Lewis and Joseph Colombo Jr. were arrested Monday evening after a deputy spotted one man taking the sandbags from a highway overpass and the other acting as a lookout.

Lewis is charged with theft during a declared state of emergency, a third-degree felony. Colombo was also arrested for an injunction violation for possessing a firearm, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Online court records show no attorneys listed for the men.


11 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to batter the Bahamas with life-threatening storm surge.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian’s maximum sustained winds decreased Tuesday morning to near 110 mph (175 kph). But it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days.

Dorian is centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of Freeport in the Bahamas and is moving northwest near 2 mph (4 kph).


9:35 a.m.

Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands tells The Associated Press that Hurricane Dorian devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.

He said Tuesday that the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.

Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven’t received dialysis since Friday.

Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph) and gusts up to 220 mph (355 kph), a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. The storm then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.


9:20 a.m.

United Nations officials estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food following the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian .

A spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs. Herve Verhoosel says preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people in Grand Bahama island may need food, along with another 14,500 in the neighboring Abaco islands.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water. Matthew Cochrane says about 45% of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.


8:25 a.m.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he ordered evacuations along the length of his state’s coast, which includes several low-lying islands, because if there is flooding on causeways, they won’t be able to get vehicles on or off the islands.

Kemp told Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning that he’s expecting Hurricane Dorian to batter Georgia with heavy winds, severe flooding, a storm surge and beach erosion.

He said a reverse traffic or “contraflow” on Interstate 16 begins Tuesday morning.

The Category 3 storm has been battering the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and flooding.


8:05 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is beginning to inch northwestward after being stationary over the Bahamas, where its relentless winds have caused catastrophic damage and flooding.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm has started moving about 1 mph (2 kph) Tuesday morning and its speed is expected to increase slightly later in the day.

Dorian’s maximum sustained winds remain near 120 mph (195 kph), making it a major Category 3 hurricane.

The storm is centered about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Freeport in the Bahamas.


McLEAN’S TOWN CAY, Bahamas (AP) — In a slow, relentless advance, a catastrophic Hurricane Dorian kept pounding at the northern Bahamas early Monday, as one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded left wrecked homes, shredded roofs, tumbled cars and toppled power poles in its wake.

The storm’s top sustained winds decreased slightly to 165 mph (265 kph) as its westward movement slowed, crawling along Grand Bahama island Monday morning at 1 mph (1.6 kph) in what forecasters said would be a daylong assault. Earlier, Dorian churned over Abaco island with battering winds and surf during Sunday.

There was little information from the affected islands, though officials expected many residents to be left homeless. Most people went to shelters as the storm approached, with tourist hotels shutting down and residents boarded up their homes.

“It’s devastating,” Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said Sunday afternoon. “There has been huge damage to property and infrastructure. Luckily, no loss of life reported.”

On Sunday, Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reached 185 mph (297 kph), with gusts up to 220 mph (354 kph), tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall. That equaled the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph (305 kph) winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

Forecasters said Dorian was most likely to begin pulling away from the Bahamas early Tuesday and curving to the northeast parallel to the U.S. Southeast seaboard. Still, the potent storm was expected to stay close to shore and hammer the coast with dangerous winds and heavy surf, while authorities cautioned that it could still make landfall.

According to a Monday morning advisory from the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida’s east-central coast may see a “brief tornado” sometime between Monday afternoon and Monday night.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an order Sunday for the mandatory evacuation of his state’s entire coast. The order, which covers about 830,000 people, was to take effect at noon Monday, at which point state troopers were to make all lanes on major coastal highways one-way heading inland.

“We can’t make everybody happy, but we believe we can keep everyone alive,” McMaster said.

A few hours later, Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, ordered mandatory evacuations for that state’s Atlantic coast, also starting at midday Monday.

Authorities in Florida ordered mandatory evacuations in some vulnerable coastal areas. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned his state that it could see heavy rain, winds and floods later in the week.

Dorian first came ashore Sunday at Elbow Cay in Abaco island at 12:40 p.m., then made a second landfall near Marsh Harbour at 2 p.m.

“Catastrophic conditions” were reported in Abaco, with a storm surge of 18 to 23 feet (5.5-7 meters).

Video that Jibrilu and government spokesman Kevin Harris said was sent by Abaco residents showed homes missing parts of roofs, electric lines on the ground and smashed and overturned cars. One showed floodwaters rushing through the streets of an unidentified town at nearly the height of a car roof.

In some parts of Abaco, “you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. According to the Nassau Guardian, he called it “probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people.”

Bahamas radio station ZNS Bahamas reported that a mother and child on Grand Bahama had called to say they were sheltering in a closet and seeking help from police.

Silbert Mills, owner of the Bahamas Christian Network, said trees and power lines were torn down in Abaco.

“The winds are howling like we’ve never, ever experienced before,” said Mills, who was riding out the hurricane with his family in the concrete home he built 41 years ago on central Abaco.

Jack Pittard, a 76-year-old American who has visited the Bahamas for 40 years, also decided to stay put on Abaco for Dorian, which he said was his first hurricane. A short video from Pittard about 2:30 p.m. Sunday showed the wind shaking his home and ripping off the siding.

The Bahamas archipelago is no stranger to hurricanes. Homes are required to have metal reinforcements for roof beams to withstand winds into the upper limits of a Category 4 hurricane, and compliance is generally tight for those who can afford it. Risks are higher in poorer neighborhoods, with wooden homes in low-lying areas.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dorian is forecast to be 40 to 50 miles (64 to 80 kilometers) off Florida, with hurricane-force wind speeds extending about 35 miles (56 kilometers) to the west.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for Florida’s East Coast from Deerfield Beach north to the Georgia state line. The same area was put under a storm surge watch. Lake Okeechobee was under a tropical storm watch.

Mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying and flood-prone areas and mobile homes were in effect starting either Sunday or Monday from Palm Beach County north to at least the Daytona Beach area, and some counties to the north issued voluntary evacuation notices. Weekend traffic was light in Florida despite those orders, unlike during the chaotic run-up to Hurricane Irma in 2017 when the unusually broad storm menaced the entire state.

Ken Graham, director of the hurricane center, urged people not to bet on safety just because the forecast track had the storm a bit offshore. With every new forecast, “we keep nudging (Dorian’s track) a little bit to the left” — that is, is closer to the Florida coast, Graham said.

President Donald Trump already declared a state of emergency and was briefed about what he called a “monstrous” storm.

“We don’t know where it’s going to hit but we have an idea, probably a little bit different than the original course,” Trump said. “But it can change its course again and it can go back more toward Florida.”

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