US

Governor Urges Coastal Georgians to Evacuate, Some Florida Airports Closed

By The Associated Press

Some airports in Florida are closed as Hurricane Dorian approaches the Florida coast.

Palm Beach International Airport closed Monday morning. The Orlando Melbourne International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport suspended commercial flights and closed terminals at noon Monday.

Miami International Airport remained open, but warned travelers that it was expecting higher than normal traffic and to arrive early for their flights.

More than 900 flights have been canceled going in and out of Florida airports, according to data from Flightaware.com.

At least 13 Florida counties were under evacuation orders Monday,

For those not under mandatory evacuations, the Florida Division of Emergency Management urged residents to “plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power & water for several days.”

Dorian crawled to a near stop as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds in the Bahamas and was about 110 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday at 11 a.m. ET.

The storm was expected to continue inflicting devastation on Grand Bahama Island throughout Monday.

The center said the storm will move “dangerously close” to the Florida East Coast late Monday through Wednesday evening.

Strong winds from Hurricane Dorian
Strong winds from Hurricane Dorian blow the tops of trees and brush while whisking up water from the surface of a canal that leads to the sea, located behind the brush at top, seen from the balcony of a hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, on Sept. 2, 2019. (Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo)

In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp is urging coastal residents to flee ahead of Hurricane Dorian, citing the storm’s powerful winds and uncertain path.

Kemp told reporters Monday in Savannah: “This is not one to play with.”

It was Kemp’s first news conference since late Sunday when he ordered mandatory evacuations in all six counties that make up Georgia’s 100-mile coastline.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp discusses evacuations and emergency plans for Hurricane Dorian during a news conference in Savannah, Ga., on Sept. 2, 2019. (Russ Bynum/AP Photo)

Kemp said those living on Georgia’s barrier islands especially ought to flee, warning that emergency responders may not be able to reach them if causeways are underwater or blocked by debris.

Georgia officials plan to turn Interstate 16 linking Savannah and Macon into a one-way evacuation route Tuesday. The state Department of Transportation is asking motorists to consider alternate routes in anticipation of additional evacuation traffic from Florida and South Carolina.

Emergency Declarations

President Donald Trump has approved emergency declarations for Georgia and South Carolina due to Hurricane Dorian.

Trump approved the declarations on Sunday. The White House announced them Monday.

The declarations authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Trump was briefed on the hurricane during a visit to FEMA headquarters in Washington on Sunday.

The president urged everyone in Dorian’s path to obey warnings and evacuation orders issued by local authorities, saying public safety “must always come first.”

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump, left, listens as Kenneth Graham, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, on screen, gives an update during a briefing about Hurricane Dorian at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on Sept. 1, 2019, in Washington, at right of Trump is Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and Neil Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Storm Weakens

The hurricane center forecasts further weakening at a slow pace, but the hurricane is expected to remain “powerful” over the next few days.

Hurricane Dorian, while continuing to batter the Bahamas on Monday with life-threatening winds and storm surge, has weakened very slightly to a Category 4 storm.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in an advisory at 11 a.m. EDT that Dorian’s maximum sustained winds are 155 mph, which takes the extremely dangerous storm down one notch, from Category 5.

People In Distress

Authorities in the Bahamas are urging people to find floating devices and grab hammers to break out of their attics if necessary as Hurricane Dorian unleashed massive flooding across Grand Bahama island.

Minister of State Kwasi Thompson told ZNS Bahamas radio station Monday that officials were getting a tremendous number of calls from people in distress as the powerful Category 4 storm slowed to almost a standstill.

Police Chief Samuel Butler urged people to remain calm and said rescue crews could not help anyone at the moment because of the storm’s maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.

“We simply cannot get to you,” he said.

Dorian also is expected to cause a storm surge of up to 23 feet as ZNS radio station shared reports from callers saying some people were stuck on roofs and other areas.

Total Blackout

A spokesman for Bahamas Power and Light says there has been a total blackout in New Providence, the archipelago’s most populous island.

Quincy Parker told ZNS Bahamas radio station on Monday morning that crews are working to restore power on the island that lies south of the path that Hurricane Dorian is expected to take.

He said the Bahamas Power and Light office in Abaco, which was hit by the Category 5 storm on Sunday, has been flattened.

“The reports out of Abaco as everyone knows,” Parker said as he sighed, “were not good.”

Parker said officials are anxious for the storm to pass so they can start rebuilding.

Hurricane Dorian is continuing its slow, devastating slog over the Bahamas.

The center said the “life-threatening storm surge” could raise water levels by as much as 23 feet above normal tide in parts of Grand Bahama Island.