Tag Archives: Hurricane

Hurricane Iota makes landfall on Nicaragua coast already battered by Eta

Powerful Hurricane Iota made landfall on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast late Monday, threatening catastrophic damage to the same part of Central America already battered by equally strong Hurricane Eta less than two weeks ago.

Iota had intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm early in the day, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center said it weakened slightly to Category 4, with maximum sustained winds of 250 km/h. Its centre made landfall about 45 kilometres south of the Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas, also known as Bilwi.

Iota already had been hitting the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras with torrential rains and strong winds.

Iota came ashore just 25 kilometres south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall Nov. 3, also as a Category 4 storm. Eta’s torrential rains saturated the soil in the region, leaving it prone to new landslides and floods, and there are warnings that the storm surge could reach 4.5 to 6 metres above normal tides.

In Bilwi, business owner Adan Artola Schultz braced himself in the doorway of his house as strong gusts of wind and rain drove water in torrents down the street. He watched in amazement as wind ripped away the metal roof structure from a substantial two-story home and blew it away like paper.

This satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Iota on Monday. The storm made landfall in Nicaragua late Monday as a Category 5 hurricane. (NOAA/The Associated Press)

“It is like bullets,” he said of the sound of metal structures banging and buckling in the wind. “This is double destruction,” he said, referring to the damage wrought by Eta just 12 days earlier.

“This is coming in with fury.”

‘The situation doesn’t look good’

Storm surge was on the mind of Yasmina Wriedt in Bilwi’s seaside El Muelle neighbourhood.

“The situation doesn’t look good at all,” Wriedt said earlier in the day. “We woke up without electricity, with rain and the surf is getting really high.”

Wriedt, who works for a small-scale fishing organization called Piquinera, said the roof of her house was blown off in Eta less than two weeks ago.

“We repaired it as best we could. Now I think the wind will take it again because they say [Iota] is even stronger,” she said, the sound of hammering echoing around her as neighbours boarded windows and reinforced roofs.

During Eta, the surf came up to just behind her house, where she lives with eight other members of her family. “Today I’m afraid again about losing my house and I’m frightened for all of us who live in this neighbourhood,” she said.

Wendy Guadalupe Contreras, who was left homeless after the last storm hit the area, comforts her son Monday. Hurricane Iota is expected to bring catastrophic damage to the same part of Central America already battered by a powerful Hurricane Eta less than two weeks ago. (Delmer Martinez/The Associated Press)

Wriedt said some neighbours went to stay with relatives elsewhere, but most have stayed. “We’re almost all here,” she said. “Neither the army nor the government came to move us.”

Cairo Jarquin, Nicaragua emergency response project manager for Catholic Relief Services, had just visited Bilwi and smaller coastal communities Friday.

In Wawa Bar, Jarquin said he found “total destruction” from Eta. People had been working furiously to put roofs back over their families’ heads, but now Iota threatened to take what was left.

Low-lying areas evacuated

“The little that remained standing could be razed,” Jarquin said. There were other communities farther inland that he was not even able to reach due to the condition of the roads. He said he heard that Wawa bar was evacuated again Saturday.

Evacuations were conducted from low-lying areas in Nicaragua and Honduras near their shared border through the weekend.

Nicaraguan Vice-President Rosario Murillo, who is also the first lady, said that the government had done everything necessary to protect lives, including the evacuation of thousands. She added that Taiwan had donated 800 tons of rice to help those affected by the storms.

Iota is the record 30th named storm of this year’s extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season. It’s also the ninth storm to rapidly intensify this season, a dangerous phenomenon that is happening more often. Such activity has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

Iota is stronger, based on central pressure, than 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and is the first storm with a Greek alphabet name to hit Category 5, Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said. It also sets the record for the latest Category 5 hurricane on record, beating the record set by the Nov. 8, 1932, Cuba Hurricane.

Storms power up faster

Eta had hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane, killing more than 130 people as torrential rains caused flash floods and mudslides in parts of Central America and Mexico. Then it meandered across Cuba, the Florida Keys and around the Gulf of Mexico before slogging ashore again near Cedar Key, Fla., and dashing across Florida and the Carolinas.

Iota was forecast to drop 250 to 500 millimetres of rain in northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Belize, with as much as 750 millimetres in isolated spots. Costa Rica and Panama could also experience heavy rain and possible flooding, the hurricane centre said.

Over the past couple of decades, meteorologists have been more worried about storms like Iota that power up much faster than normal. They created an official threshold for this rapid intensification — a storm gaining 56 km/h in wind speed in just 24 hours. Iota doubled it.

Earlier this year, Hannah, Laura, Sally, Teddy, Gamma, Delta, Zeta and Iota all rapidly intensified. Laura and Delta tied or set records for rapid intensification.

The official end of the hurricane season is Nov. 30.

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Tropical storm Zeta strengthens into hurricane as it heads for Mexico

Tropical storm Zeta strengthened to a hurricane on Monday afternoon as it continued on a track for Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula resorts and was forecast to possibly make U.S. landfall in the central Gulf Coast by midweek. 

Zeta, the earliest ever 27th named storm of the Atlantic season, was about 170 kilometres southeast of Cozumel island Monday afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It had maximum sustained winds of around 128 km/h.

The hurricane was moving northwest at around 17 km/h after being nearly stationary over the weekend. Zeta was expected to move over the Yucatan Peninsula late Monday before heading into the Gulf of Mexico, where it would approach the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, forecasters said, though it could weaken by then.

Trees felled by Hurricane Delta barely three weeks earlier still litter parts of Cancun, stacked along roadsides and in parks. There is concern they could become projectiles when Zeta scrapes across the peninsula.

There are still a number of stoplights around the vacation destination that have not been repaired since Delta.

Local authorities are taking the storm seriously, but with a distinctly less alarmed tone than when Delta strengthened to a Category 4 storm off the coast.

Quintana Roo state suspended alcohol sales Monday and Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez said everyone should be off the streets by Monday afternoon.

Beach hotel workers cover doors and windows with plywood as they prepare for the arrival of tropical storm Zeta in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The state government said 71 shelters were being prepared for tourists or residents who might need them. (Tomas Stargardter/AP photo)

Residents were pulling their boats from the water, but the sort of panic buying seen in the run-up to Delta was not evident Monday. 

State officials reported nearly 60,000 tourists in the state as of midweek. The state government said 71 shelters were being readied for tourists or residents who might need them.

Joaquin said he hoped it would not be necessary in most cases to move guests out of their hotels.

The forecast track would have Zeta hitting Cozumel and striking the mainland just south of Playa del Carmen. Delta made landfall Oct. 7 between Playa del Carmen and Cancun with winds of up to 175 km/h.

The government was still handing out aid, including sheet roofing, to Yucatan residents hit by Hurricane Delta and tropical storm Gamma earlier this month.

Zeta had been dawdling Sunday because it was trapped between two strong high pressure systems to the east and west, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

The hurricane centre said Zeta could bring 10 to 20 centimetres of rain to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba before drenching the central U.S. Gulf Coast.

The storm could make landfall anywhere from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said.

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows tropical storm Zeta on Sunday, Oct. 25. Zeta was trapped between two strong high pressure systems to the east and west over the weekend. (NOAA/NESDIS/STAR/The Associated Press)

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards urged citizens to monitor the storm as the state activated its Crisis Action Team.

Zeta broke the record for the previous earliest 27th Atlantic named storm that formed on Nov. 29, 2005, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

This year’s season has so many storms that the hurricane centre has turned to the Greek alphabet after running out of assigned names.

Zeta is the furthest into the Greek alphabet the Atlantic storm season has gone.

There was also a tropical storm Zeta in 2005, but that year had 28 storms because meteorologists later went back and found they missed one, which then became an “unnamed named storm,” Klotzbach said.

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Isaias weakens but expected to regain hurricane strength as it nears virus-weary Florida

Isaias snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday and weakened to a tropical storm as it churned toward the Florida coast, where it still threatened to complicate efforts to contain the coronavirus in a hot spot.

The storm, which is expected to regain hurricane strength as it nears Florida, is piling another burden on communities already hit hard by other storms and sickness.

Florida authorities closed beaches, parks and virus testing sites. Though officials do not expect to have to evacuate residents, they wrestled with how to prepare shelters where people can seek refuge from the storm if necessary while safely physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The most important thing we want people to do now is remain vigilant,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Authorities in North Carolina ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was slammed by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, starting Saturday evening. Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas cleared people out of Abaco island who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people.

The centre of the storm is forecast to approach the southeast coast of Florida early Sunday morning and then travel along the state’s east coast throughout the day. (NOAA via The Associated Press)

Isaias had maximum sustained winds of near 110 km/h at about 5 p.m. ET Saturday, a decline from earlier in the day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It is expected to regain strength as it heads over warm water toward Florida.

The centre of the storm is forecast to approach the southeast coast of Florida early Sunday morning and then travel along the state’s east coast throughout the day. It is expected to regain hurricane strength overnight as it nears Florida.

Despite the approaching storm, NASA says the return of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX capsule is still on track for Sunday afternoon. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are preparing to make the first splashdown return in 45 years after two months docked at the International Space Station. They are aiming for the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida Panhandle, and flight controllers are keeping close watch on the storm.

Caribbean slammed

The storm has already been destructive in the Caribbean: On Thursday, while still a tropical storm, Isaias uprooted trees, destroyed crops and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

One man died in the Dominican Republic, where more than 5,000 people were evacuated, hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed and more than 130 communities were cut off by floodwaters.

In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floodwaters that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered on Saturday.

WATCH | Puerto Rico hit by Isaias:

Widespread damage reported as storm gains hurricane strength on its way to U.S. East Coast. 1:01

Concerns about the coronavirus and the vulnerability of people who are still recovering from Dorian were adding to worries about the Category 1 storm. 

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis relaxed a coronavirus lockdown as a result of the storm but imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. He said supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be open as long as weather permitted.

“The centre of COVID-19 now is in Grand Bahama,” the island’s minister, Sen. Kwasi Thompson, told government-run ZNS Bahamas. “No one wanted to see a situation where we are now facing a hurricane.”

The Bahamas has reported more than 570 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 14 deaths. It recently barred travellers from the U.S. following a surge in cases after it reopened to international tourism.

Paula Miller, Mercy Corps director for the Bahamas, told The Associated Press that people on the island were still standing in line for gas on Saturday ahead of the storm.

The area was still recovering from Dorian, complicating preparations for this one.

“People are doing the best they can to prepare, but a lot of businesses still have not fully repaired their roofs or their structures,” Miller said. “Even a lower-level storm could really set them back.”

Storm complicates Florida’s COVID-19 efforts

As it moves now toward the southeast coast of Florida, a hurricane warning is in effect from Boca Raton to the Volusia-Flagler county line, which lies about 240 kilometres north. A hurricane watch was in effect from Hallendale Beach to south of Boca Raton. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the area, and a watch means they are possible.

Florida has been a coronavirus hot spot in the United States in recent weeks, and the storm is upending some efforts to control the virus. State-run testing sites are closing in areas where the storm might hit because the sites are outdoor tents, which could topple in high winds.

DeSantis, the governor, said Saturday that 12 counties have adopted states of emergency, although no immediate evacuation orders have been given. He also said that hospitals are not being evacuated of coronavirus or other patients.

The Republican governor told a morning news conference that the state is prepared with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.

The pandemic forced officials to wrestle with physical-distancing rules at the same time as disaster response.

For example, in Marion County, Fla., officials say people would be provided facial coverings if they have to go to shelters. The facilities will have sanitizers and personal protective equipment if needed, although they would prefer people bring their own PPE.

Cars drive past a sign displaying a hurricane warning in Boynton Beach, Fla., on Saturday. (Wilfredo Lee/The Associated Press)

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said each person in a shelter needed to have 40 square feet, and no more cafeteria-style dining would be allowed. Any evacuees infected with the novel coronavirus would be isolated in classrooms separate them from the general population, Gimenez said.

Kevin Shelton, the owner of Causeway Mowers in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., said his store has been packed since Friday. People streamed in to buy generators, chainsaws and other provisions. On Saturday morning, Shelton and his wife served at least 25 customers an hour, which is double the business they’d normally do on a weekend.

“They’re not saying much about COVID, they’re just making sure they have the proper supplies,” he said. “We’ve been in the area almost 50 years. We keep an eye on every storm. Every time we have a storm, we take it seriously. It could shift in this direction at any moment.”

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Rebuilding a struggle on Bahamas island smashed by hurricane

The streets are filled with smashed cars, snapped power cables, shattered trees and deep silence.

At the airport and dock, hundreds of people clamour for seats on airplanes and berths on ships arriving with aid and departing with people who lost their homes when deadly Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas.

Nearly a week after disaster roared in from the sea, the rest of Marsh Harbour on Abaco Island felt empty Saturday. A hot wind whistled through stands of decapitated pine trees and homes that collapsed during the most powerful hurricane in the northwestern Bahamas’ recorded history. 

Rescue teams were still trying to reach some Bahamian communities isolated by floodwaters and debris after the disaster that killed at least 44 people. 

The U.S. Coast Guard said it has rescued a total of 290 people in the northern Bahamas following the hurricane. Six MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and nine cutters are helping in the aid effort, while the government of the Bahamas says more than 900 members of the Bahamian police and military are on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands to help with hurricane relief.

Military personnel drive past damage in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour. (Loren Elliot/Reuters)

The government also says 120 Jamaican security personnel arrived in the Bahamas on Saturday evening, and 100 troops from Trinidad and Tobago are to arrive Sunday as part of the aid effort in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

Due to the considerable air traffic, Bahamaian officials banned non-aid flights over the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands. The National Emergency Management agency also threatened to revoke flight permission from any pilots charging fees to fly people from the islands.

The struggle to stay 

No official figures were available, but much of the population of Marsh Harbour, home to most of the roughly 20,000 residents of Abaco, seemed to have already left. Many were staying with relatives in the capital, Nassau, others with family in Florida and other parts of the United States. 

In Marsh Harbour’s Murphy Town neighbourhood, on a hill overlooking the azure sea, Jackson Blatch and his son-in-law were already rebuilding. In a blazing midday sun they stripped damaged shingles from Blatch’s roofs and tossed them into his truck, parked below the eaves of a home he built by hand.  

Like a few other Abaco residents, Blatch is staying on an island pulverized by nature.  

“Everybody says, ‘Leave.’ Leave and go where?” Blatch asked. “My plan is to rebuild this island. I have a lot to offer.” 

Jackson Blatch starts repairs on the roof of his home in Marsh Harbour. Many in his neighbourhood have been forced to leave. (Fernando Llano/The Associated Press)

Blatch has power from a generator, drinking water, food and the help of his son-in-law, 25-year-old Moses Monestine. 

“I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t want to go to Nassau,” he said. “I don’t want to go to the United States. I don’t want to depend on anyone.” 

Though Blatch is determined to stay, many others have chosen to leave, catching rescue flights to Nassau. A week after the hurricane plowed into the archipelago nation of 400,000 people, the capital city faced a wave of thousands of evacuees fleeing such hard-hit areas as Marsh Harbour, where some 90 per cent of the infrastructure is damaged or destroyed.

Abaco resident Bernard Forbes evacuates the island with the help of Global Support and Development personnel. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

There are roughly 70,000 people in need of food and shelter, according to the United Nations World Food Program’s estimate. Interviews with evacuees this week shone light on the extent of Dorian’s destruction. Survivors avoided death, but have lost homes, jobs and hospitals.

“Home is more than four walls and a roof — it’s the neighbourhood where people live, their friends and neighbours, their livelihoods, comfort, and security for the future. Losing  all these things at once is heartbreaking,” said Jenelle Eli, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, which is helping with the relief. 

“People are concerned about their next step, but also how they’ll earn an income and what their lives will look like in the future.”

Bahamian officials acknowledged on Saturday that Nassau will strain to house all the people that need shelter.

More aid needed

The Red Cross said it had committed an initial $ 2.6 million to help, and Norwegian energy company Equinor said on Sunday it will clean up an onshore oil spill discovered this week at its Bahamas storage terminal.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said eight tonnes of food supplies were on the way by ship. Some 14,700 ready-to-eat meals as well as logistical and telecommunications equipment are being delivered, said Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for the World Food Programme.

“The needs remain enormous,” Verhoosel said. 

Many in Marsh Harbour echo that claim, and complain aid has been too slow in arriving.

“They haven’t done a thing to help us down here,” shouted Tepeto Davis, a 37-year-old tile contractor who slammed on the brakes of his pickup truck and backed up to talk to reporters. 

Boxes of Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE) are seen at an airport in Treasure Cay, Bahamas. Roughly 14,700 are being sent by the World Food Program. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

“We are suffering out here and no one cares about us. We’ve had to funnel gasoline out of destroyed cars to get injured people back and forth. There’s no gas, there’s no food, no medicine, and no water.”

And those who were receiving aid in Nassau worried that they were still a long way from being able to rebuild their lives.

“The government says everyone’s being fed, and that’s good,” said Anthony Morley, 61, who fled Marsh Harbour and was staying at Breezes, a Nassau resort where local volunteers have subsidized rooms for survivors. “But for food I can fish. What I need is a house. I don’t have a bed, a refrigerator. I don’t even have a Bible.”

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Hurricane Dorian howls over North Carolina’s Outer Banks

A weakened Hurricane Dorian flooded homes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Friday with a fury that took even storm-hardened residents by surprise, forcing people to retreat to their attics. Hundreds were feared trapped by high water, and neighbours used boats to rescue one another.

Sheriff’s officials sent medics and other rescuers to Ocracoke Island — accessible only by boat or air — to reach those who made the mistake of defying mandatory evacuation orders along the 320-kilometre ribbon of low-lying islands that stick out from the eastern seaboard like the side-view mirror on a car.

“There is significant concern about hundreds of people trapped on Ocracoke Island,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “There are rescue teams ready as soon as they can get in.”

Officials said people in need of leaving the island would eventually be taken to a shelter equipped with food, medical supplies and power in Washington County, some 120 kilometres east of the state capital, Raleigh. Priority was to be given to the elderly, anyone with medical needs or other special circumstances.

Its winds down to 145 km/h, Dorian howled over the Outer Banks as a far weaker storm than the brute that wreaked havoc on the Bahamas at the start of the week. Just when it looked as if its run up the southeast coast was coming to a relatively quiet end, the Category 1 hurricane lashed communities with rain and surging seas, sending water coursing onto the main floors of elevated homes.

Over and over, longtime residents said that they had never seen flooding so bad, or that things that had never flooded before were inundated.

Kelsey Myers looks at an overturned tree in her front yard in Summerville, S.C., after Hurricane Dorian passed by. (Mic Smith/The Associated Press)

“The wall of water just came rushing through the island from the sound side. And it just started looking like a bathtub, very quickly,” said Steve Harris, who has lived on Ocracoke Island for most of the last 19 years. “We went from almost no water to four to six feet in a matter of minutes.”

Harris said people were getting around the island by boat, and authorities were using military vehicles to reach those stranded. He said he was fortunate to live on the third floor of a condo building but lost his car to the storm.

Another Ocracoke Island resident, bookshop owner Leslie Lanier, said via text message that the first floors of some homes had flooded and people had been forced to climb to their attics, but that the water had already begun to drop.

“We are flooding like crazy,” she said, adding: “I have been here 32 years and not seen this.”

Ocracoke Island resident and restaurant owner Jason Wells said the flooding was the worst he had ever seen or heard of.

“Several people were rescued from their upper floors or attics by boat by good Samaritans,” Wells said in a text message. He said he wasn’t aware of any serious injuries.

Watch video of the storm overnight in Morehead, N.C.

The Category 1 storm’s outer bands caused heavy rain in Morehead City, N.C., overnight. 0:51

The Coast Guard began landing aircraft on the island to drop off local law enforcement officers and evacuate a resident in need of medical care. Authorities told people to get to the highest point in their homes as they waited to be rescued.

In Buxton, on Hatteras Island, close to where Dorian blew ashore, Radio Hatteras volunteer Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy said that people were calling in to report that “houses are shaking like crazy” and that “it’s never been like this before.”

“The wind is blowing with fury,” she said.

Some of the locations in the Carolinas affected by the impact of Dorian are shown. (CBC News)

The storm’s centre made landfall at Cape Hatteras, one of the low-lying barrier islands in the Outer Banks, around 8:30 a.m. ET with maximum sustained winds nearing 150 km/h, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

At least four people were killed in the southeast. All were men in Florida or North Carolina who died in falls or by electrocution while trimming trees, putting up storm shutters or otherwise getting ready for the hurricane.

Dorian swamped roads in historic downtown Charleston, S.C., and knocked down some 150 trees and toppled power lines. Gusts had topped 129 km/h in some areas.

A tornado touched down in Carolina Shores, N.C., on Thursday. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via Associated Press)

Dorian apparently spawned at least one tornado in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., damaging several homes, and another twister touched down in the beach town of Emerald Isle, N.C., mangling and overturning several trailer homes in a jumble of sheet metal. No immediate injuries were reported.

More than 700 airline flights scheduled for Thursday and Friday were cancelled, while power outages by Friday afternoon had dropped by about one-third, to around 213,000, in the Carolinas and Virginia.

The damage was far less than feared in many parts of the Carolinas, including Wilmington, N.C., the state’s biggest coastal city.

Joseph Pawlick went out Friday morning to rake leaves, twigs and other debris blown from the sidewalk outside his Wilmington home.

“I slept like a baby last night. This, thankfully, was not bad,” he said.

High winds whip through Buxton, N.C., just after dawn as Hurricane Dorian passes nearby on Friday. A weakened Dorian flooded homes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Friday with a ferocity that seemed to take storm-hardened residents by surprise. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

In South Carolina, residents in affected counties who left the state’s coastal areas ahead of Dorian were told they would be allowed to return home Friday. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has lifted the remaining evacuation orders for Berkeley, Charleston, Dorcheter, Georgetown and Horry counties, though he cautioned those returning could face blocked roads, detours and lengthy travel times.

As of 5 p.m. ET, Dorian’s centre was moving northeast in the Atlantic Ocean at around 38 km/h, packing maximum sustained winds of 145 km/h. The hurricane centre said Dorian was expected to increase its forward speed through Saturday night.

Officials in Atlantic Canada are preparing for Dorian’s arrival. The NHC said hurricane-force winds are likely for Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and possibly Newfoundland on Saturday and Sunday, with dangerous storm surge likely in eastern Nova Scotia and southwestern Newfoundland.

The hurricane hammered the Bahamas earlier in the week with 295 km/h winds, killing at least 30 people. The victims are from Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, and the number of dead is expected to grow.

With a few meagre possessions stuffed in plastic bags, Bahamians who lost homes to Hurricane Dorian were waiting at a small airport, hoping to catch planes out of the disaster zone as an international humanitarian effort to help the island country gains momentum and the death toll has risen to 30.

Watch: CBC News journalist Steven D’Souza reports from Nassau, Bahamas:

CBC’s Steven D’Souza spoke with Tevya Friedman from urban search and rescue group Empact Northwest. 2:07

“They told us that the babies, the pregnant people and the elderly people were supposed to be first preference,” said Lukya Thompson, a 23-year-old bartender. But many were still waiting, she said.

Despite hardship and uncertainty, those at the airport were mostly calm. The Bahamian Health Ministry said helicopters and boats were on the way to help people in affected areas, though officials warned of delays because of severe flooding and limited access.

The United Nations announced the purchase of 7.25 tonnes of ready-to-eat meals, and said it will provide satellite communications equipment and airlift storage units, generators and prefab offices to set up logistics hubs. UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said about 70,000 people “are in immediate need of life-saving assistance” on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

People take shelter inside a church Thursday in Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas. (Brendan Smialoswski/AFP/Getty Image)

A British Royal Navy ship docked at Abaco and distributed supplies to hurricane survivors. On Grand Bahama, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship dropped off 10,000 meals, 10,000 bottles of water and more than 180 generators, as well as diapers and flashlights.

American Airlines said it flew a Boeing 737 from Miami to Nassau to drop off 6.35 tonnes of relief supplies. 

Total property losses, not including infrastructure and autos, could reach $ 7 billion US, the firm Karen Clark & Co. has estimated.

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Aerial photos show widespread damage in Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian left stretches of the Bahamas looking as if they had been carpet bombed and was regaining strength as it crawled up the U.S. Atlantic coast, possibly making landfall later on Thursday in South Carolina.

The United Nations said 70,000 people in the Bahamas needed immediate humanitarian relief after the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.

Aerial video of the worst-hit Abaco Islands in northern Bahamas showed widespread devastation, with the harbour, shops, workplaces, a hospital, and airport landing strips damaged or blown to pieces, all of which was frustrating rescue efforts.

One of the most powerful Caribbean storms on record, the Category 5 hurricane killed at least 20 people in the Bahamas. Authorities expected that number to rise, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference on Wednesday, as retreating floodwaters were revealing the scope of destruction.

It’s believed the storm destroyed or severely damaging 45 per cent of the homes in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

There is widespread hurricane damage on Great Abaco Island, seen here on Wednesday, as well as on Grand Bahama Island. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With many telephones down, residents posted lists of missing loved ones on social media. One Facebook post by media outlet Our News Bahamas had 2,000 comments, mainly listing lost family.

The powerful storm made landfall on Sunday in Elbow Cay, Bahamas and pounded the islands for more than two days.

A massive rescue effort is underway on Great Abaco Island where entire communities were flattened. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Dorian killed one person in Puerto Rico before making landfall Sunday in Elbow Cay, Bahamas with torrential rains and storm surges measuring 3.7 to 5.5 metres.

An international relief effort was underway for the Bahamas, with a British Royal Navy vessel providing assistance and Jamaica sending a 150-member military contingent to help secure Abaco and Grand Bahama, officials said.

Aliana Alexis of Haiti stands on the concrete slab of what is left of her home on Thursday in an area called ‘The Mud’ in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

Volunteers also ferried supplies to the islands in a flotilla of small boats.

“Let us give of our best in this moment of historic tragedy,” Minnis said.

Tourists still encouraged to visit

He also encouraged international tourists to visit the Bahamas, which relies heavily on its hospitality industry.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

In the United States, South Carolina was preparing for a record storm surge, potentially reaching a height of two metres at the popular vacation destination of Myrtle Beach, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory.

Women walk through the rubble in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Dante Carrer – RC1EA4802450 (Dante Carrer/Reuters )

About 300 millimetres of rain will drop on flood-prone Charleston, S.C. and many parts of the coasts of the Carolinas on Thursday and Friday, said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md.

“It’s pretty substantial. It’s already raining heavy in Charleston and up and down the coast,” he said early Thursday.

Media reported flooding in historic downtown Charleston from the now-Category 3 hurricane before sunup early Thursday, and more than 160,000 homes and businesses were without power along the South Carolina and Georgia coastal areas, according to the tracking site poweroutage.us.

At 5 a.m. ET on Thursday, Dorian was about 130 kilometres south-southeast of Charleston, the NHC said.

The NHC has issued a storm surge warning that covered the parts of the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina stretching from the Savannah River and extending to southern Virginia.

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Hurricane Dorian creeps up U.S. coast, prompts fears of near-record storm surge

Hurricane Dorian, back to a Category 3 storm, began raking the Southeast U.S. seaboard early Thursday, left tens of thousands without power as it threatened to inundate low-lying coasts from Georgia to Virginia with a life-threatening storm surge after its deadly mauling of the Bahamas.

As of early Thursday in South Carolina, over 16,800 in Charleston County and over 6,800 in Beaufort County were without power, according to Dominion Energy. Berkeley Electric Cooperative reported another 4,900 in Charleston County.

“We will experience hurricane-force winds, in at least gusts,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Wednesday. Even if the hurricane doesn’t end up hitting the state directly, he said, “there’s still going to be wind and water and if you’re in the coastal area, that water can be treacherous.”

Dorian appeared likely to get dangerously near Charleston, S.C., which is vulnerably located on a peninsula. A flood chart posted by the U.S. National Weather Service projected a combined high tide and storm surge around Charleston Harbour of 3.1 metres; the record, four metres, was set by Hugo in 1989.

Power lines and trees have been reported down with the eye 128 kilometres southeast of Charleston Harbor as of 5 a.m. Thursday, CBS News reported. The network said road closures are in place due to flooding in downtown Charleston, and thousands of people in the city are without power.

Dorian had crashed into the Bahamas as the country’s strongest hurricane on record, leaving widespread devastation and at least 20 people dead. But it weakened substantially in the days since, dropping from a Category 5 to a Category 2 storm before increasing again late Wednesday. Dorian could maintain this intensity for about nine hours or so before gradual weakening through Saturday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Stores and restaurants were boarded up with wood and corrugated metal in Charleston’s historic downtown, and about 830,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders on the South Carolina coast. More than 1,500 people were in 28 shelters statewide.

Hurricane Dorian threatens to swamp low-lying regions from Georgia to southeastern Virginia on its trek northward. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Georgia’s coastal islands were also at risk, Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday, adding “We are very worried, especially about the barrier islands getting cut off.”

In North Carolina, where authorities said an 85-year-old man died after falling from a ladder while getting ready for Dorian, Gov. Roy Cooper warned of the threat of storm surge and flash flooding from heavy rains. The Outer Banks barrier islands were particularly exposed.

Duke Energy said Dorian could cause more than 700,000 power outages in easternmost parts of North Carolina and South Carolina, and Georgia Power said about 2,800 homes and businesses were already without electricity.

The Navy ordered ships at its huge base in Norfolk, Va., to head to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, were being moved inland. The commander of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic issued an emergency evacuation order for military personnel and their dependents in five North Carolina counties.

‘We are ready to go,’ FEMA official says

Though weakened, Dorian remained a force to be reckoned with, its swirling circle of winds and rain wrapped around a large, gaping eye visible on photos taken from space. At 2 a.m. EDT Thursday the distinct eye of the hurricane churned about 168 kilometres south of Charleston, moving north at 11 km/h off the coast with dangerously high winds of 185 km/h.

A hurricane warning covered about 800 kilometres of coastline, and authorities warned about 3 million residents to get away before the water and wind rose.

The acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peter Gaynor, said 4,000 federal responders; 6,000 National Guard members; and 40,000 utility workers were on standby.

“We are ready to go,” Gaynor said. “We’ll follow Dorian up the coast until it is not a threat.”

In Florida, initially projected to take a direct hit from Dorian, there was widespread relief and gratitude Wednesday after the storm passed the state from a relatively safe distance offshore.

“We’re lucky today,” said Ryan Haggett, kitchen manager at the Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill, at Flagler Beach. Haggett and others removed storm shutters from restaurant windows, preparing to serve dinner Wednesday night.

With the threat to Florida easing and the danger shifting northward, Orlando, Florida’s international airport reopened, as did Walt Disney World and Universal. Dorian forced Disney Cruise Line to cancel one trip and delay the return of another ship to Port Canaveral, Florida.

One resident in the state died while preparing for the storm Monday evening, when Dorian’s path was still projected to threaten Florida. Joseph Walden, 56, was sitting on a tree limb and using a chainsaw to trim other limbs in the Orlando suburb of Ocoee when one of the cut limbs broke free and knocked him to the ground, police said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

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Bahamas left devastated after 3 days of pounding by Hurricane Dorian

Debris is spread across several kilometres, and floodwaters still cover much of the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, with the archipelago’s prime minister calling it one of the worst disasters to ever strike the island nation.

Emergency workers were struggling to reach victims as search and rescue operations continued into Wednesday and the scope of the damage and humanitarian crisis unfolded.

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference. “No effort or resources will be held back.”

News media reported early on Wednesday that some storm victims remained stuck on rooftops, waiting for rescue. The official death count of seven is expected rise in the coming days.

“We can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information,” Minnis told a news conference.

A family walks on a road after being rescued from the flood waters of Hurricane Dorian, near Freeport, Grand Bahama, in the Bahamas on Tuesday. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

“Marsh Harbor has suffered, I would estimate, in excess of 60 per cent damage to their homes,” Minnis said, referring to the port on Great Abaco.

“The Mud, as we know, has been completely destroyed or decimated,” he said referring to a shantytown known as the Mud and the Peas.

I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes, but I’ve never seen something just sit on us and just move at one mile an hour, and it just wouldn’t give up.– Bahamian Tim Aylen

Aerial video of the Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island revealed kilometres of flooded neighbourhoods, pulverized buildings, upturned boats and shipping containers scattered like toys. Many buildings had walls or roofs partly ripped off after being battered by the storm for three days.

Tim Aylen, a Bahamian who lives inland, told CBC News on Wednesday that his family considered going up in their attic or onto the rooftop, but that seemed like “a trap,” given how high the water was rising in the house.

“I mean, there was no point staying in the house and waiting for a rescue,” he said.

Aylen, a photojournalist who has documented many news events, was still taken aback as he welcomed the passing of the storm.

“I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes, but I’ve never seen something just sit on us and just move at one mile an hour, and it just wouldn’t give up,” he said. “So this is a huge relief and although we haven’t washed or eaten or done anything in a couple of days, it’s just good to be dry.”

On Wednesday morning, Dorian was a Category 2 storm packing maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometres per hour and moving north-northwest at 13 km/h, as it churned about 155 kilometres east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Fla., the NHC said.

Watch as a woman offers a first-hand account of the storm from Freeport:

Kimberly Mullings tells CBC News about how people are trapped in their homes in Freeport, Bahamas. 1:20

“On this track, the core of Hurricane Dorian will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast through [Wednesday night],” an earlier NHC advisory said.

“Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days,” the NHC said.

Heavy rains and storm surge waters moving inland could cause life-threatening flash floods, the agency warned. The risk extended from Jupiter, Fla., north to Surf City, N.C. Tornadoes are possible along the Florida coast until Wednesday night, with the risk later moving to Georgia and South Carolina.

Long lists of missing

With telephones down on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, residents posted lists of missing loved ones across social media.

A single Facebook post by media outlet Our News Bahamas seeking the names of missing people had 1,600 comments listing lost family members since it went live on Tuesday morning.

Watch as injured people are transported to Nassau via U.S. Coast Guard helicopter

The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco Island in the Bahamas to the capital, Nassau, as Hurricane Dorian battered the country. 0:53

The exact toll in the Bahamas will not be clear until the storm passes and rescue crews can get to devastated areas, said Theo Neilly, the Bahamian consul general in Washington.

“We expect it to be very devastating and the damage to be extreme,” Neilly said. Dorian has battered the Bahamas for the past three days.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said, in the strongest storm ever to hit the Bahamas.

An aerial view shows a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian moved north. Dorian made landfall on Aug. 31. (U.S. Coast Guard/EPA-EFE)

Food may be required for 14,500 people in the northern Bahamas’ Abaco Islands and for 45,700 people in Grand Bahama, the UN World Food Programme said in a statement. The preliminary estimates were based on an assessment by representatives of Caribbean nations, the WFP and other groups.

The Canadian government announced it would give up to $ 500,000 in emergency assistance to support experienced humanitarian organizations, while a handful of officials, including an engineering specialist, were in the Bahamas to provide expertise and help assess needs.

“We continue to work closely with [the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency] and the Government of the Bahamas to identify how Canada can best support the provision of emergency assistance,” a statement released by Global Affairs Canada.

The U.S. Agency for International Development said on Twitter it was air-lifting critical relief items, such as plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, and water containers, from Miami to the Bahamas. The U.S. Coast Guard said four of its helicopters were assisting in humanitarian efforts.

Dorian, which killed one person in Puerto Rico before striking the Bahamas on Sunday, is tied for the second-strongest Atlantic storm to make landfall with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labour Day hurricane.

Tropical-storm-force winds and rain squalls were already lashing parts of the Florida coast early on Wednesday, with winds and heavy surf likely to hit the Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coasts by late on Thursday. More than a million people were ordered to evacuate coastal counties in those states.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for South Carolina on Tuesday, freeing funds, other federal resources and manpower to assist during the storm and aftermath recovery.

Emergencies have already been declared in Florida and Georgia.

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Hurricane Bonus: Tesla Unlocks More Range, OnStar Adds Services

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Legend had it that cool, rainy weather made dad’s carbureted car run smoother. In 2019, there is one automotive advantage to rainy, stormy weather: Automakers are unlocking or freeing up features to customers affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Tesla will unlock free Supercharger access, unlock the software-limited range ceiling on some cars, and force-charge PowerWall batteries to full power. General Motors will provide enhanced OnStar services for anyone with a digital-technology OnStar system (2006-present), and give lapsed OnStar customers free service for the duration of the storm. And now that OnStar is no longer the only telematics game in town, others will probably match GM and OnStar crisis assistance programs. Based on past hurricanes, automakers will likely offer discounts of, say, $ 1,000 if you have to replace a storm-damaged vehicle.

Assuming your car still has power, the car’s rooftop antenna and more powerful radio transmitter allow for better call quality and more distant connections in case the most current cell tower isn’t functioning. Cars with Wi-Fi hotspots allow owners to email or text relatives to show they’re safe and then turn to social media to show everyone how bad the storm is where they live.

Tesla Powerwall. (Does your garage look like this?)

“Why Is Tesla Crippling My Range?”

Hurricanes lead Tesla to take a multi-point approach to owner assistance. This hurricane — Dorian, the one that stalled over Bermuda before turning its attention (as of Tuesday) to the US coastal seaboard as far north as the Carolinas — is getting a similar response.

First, Supercharger stations are unlocked in storm areas. You don’t pay for electricity during the storm, as long as there is electricity at the Supercharge site. This may lead to longer lines as Tesla people flock to top off their vehicles. Our advice is simple: If have power at home, charge there! It’ll cost you a couple of bucks, but if you own a Tesla, even a Model 3, it’s a rounding error on your lease or purchase payments. Leave the Supercharger stands to apartment dwellers, or those fleeing north or inland. See Elon Musk’s shortest-ever tweet, below (shortest unless he ever told someone No in a tweet):

In addition, Teslas with a more powerful battery embedded than buyers actually paid for, will have the full power and range available for the duration of the storm. For instance, Tesla Model S and Model X 60D vehicles were sold at a price commensurate with having a 60-kWh onboard. But it’s actually a 75-kWh battery software locked down to 60 kWh. Similar, standard range Tesla Model 3s have had a software-locked 220-mile range while the Model 3 Standard Range+ has a 240-mile range. They’ll get the additional range for the storm duration. Think of it as a short-term superpower. This software-capped-capability situation annoys Tesla chuckleheads who miss the point: You paid for 60 kWh (Model S, X) or 220 miles (Model 3), so be happy you’re getting 8-24 percent more range for a week, to let you outrun the storm. The correct response to Tesla is “thank you, Saint Elon,” not “class action lawsuit.”

Finally, if you have a Tesla Powerwall at home, Tesla remotely enabled the Powerwall Storm Watch feature. Basically, it makes sure the batteries are fully charged at all times. A home with solar that charges Powerwall might use power-company electricity at night to ensure the batteries are full. People with new Powerwall systems should — in a power-failure condition — not treat them as they might a backup generator with an assured supply of natural gas or propane. A US home on a normal day uses (roughly) 10 kWh to 25 kWh of power. Powerwall 2, $ 5,900, is rated at 13.5 kWh. Tesla marketing says it’s good for a week … if it’s hooked to a solar array. In reality, it’s good for 1-2 days if you want to use air conditioning, an electric stove or an electric dryer. Using only the bare minimum of lights and appliances, doing without A/C, shutting off the garage refrigerator, you might get 3-5 days.

Some automakers such as Nissan have reverse charging with EVs. In Japan, a Leaf can supply power to the Leaf that most of the year drew power from the Leaf. So far, it’s not a feature in the US. When it happens, the emotional value of EVs will increase. So long as you have a full battery when the storm hits.

Now read:

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Dorian continues to pound the Bahamas despite weakening to a Category 3 hurricane

Hurricane Dorian came to a catastrophic daylong halt over the northwest Bahamas, flooding the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with walls of water that lapped into the second floors of buildings, trapped people in attics and drowned the Grand Bahama airport under almost two metres of water.

At least five people died and 21 injured people were airlifted to the capital by the U.S. Coast Guard, Bahamas officials said.

By Tuesday morning, the storm’s top sustained winds had dipped to 193 kilometres per hour, making it a Category 3 hurricane, but it remained almost stationary. It was centred 40 kilometres northeast of Freeport — having barely budged since Monday afternoon. Hurricane-force winds extended out as far as 75 kilometres in some directions.

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. “The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.”

Winds and rain continued to pound the northwest islands late Monday night into early Tuesday, sending people fleeing the floodwaters from one shelter to another.

“This is unprecedented,” said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground. “We’ve never had a Category 5 stall for so long in the Atlantic hurricane record.”

This satellite photograph distributed by the NOAA’s National Weather Service shows the eye of Hurricane Dorian remaining near the Bahamian city of Freeport. (National Weather Service/Handout via Reuters)

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dorian was expected to start moving slowly to the west-northwest overnight while continuing to pound Grand Bahama Island into the morning.

The Center said the track would carry the storm “dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday.”

Hundreds of thousands of people in those states were ordered to evacuate before the storm rolls up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing the possibility of life-threatening storm-surge flooding even if the storm’s heart stays offshore, as forecast. Several large airports announced closures and many flights were cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.

‘We’re definitely in dire straits’

The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco Island, which Dorian hit on Sunday with sustained winds of 295 km/h and gusts up to 220 mph 355 km/h, a strength matched only by the Labour Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named.

Scientists say climate change generally has been fuelling more powerful and wetter storms and the only recorded storm more powerful than Dorian was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 305 km/h winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

Abaco and Grand Bahama, neither much more than 12 metres above sea level at their highest points, are home to some 70,000 people.

The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people injured on Abaco Island, which Dorian hit on Sunday with sustained winds of 295 km/h. (Rodrigo Gutierrez/Reuters)

Bahamian officials said they received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes. One radio station said it received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a 5-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a woman with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. At least two designated storm shelters flooded.

Dorian killed one person in Puerto Rico, at the start of its path through the Caribbean.

Minnis said many homes and buildings were severely damaged or destroyed, but it was too early to say how much the rebuilding effort would cost. Choppy brown floodwaters reached roofs and the top of palm trees on Monday.

Parliament member Iram Lewis told The Associated Press his greatest fear was that waters would keep rising overnight and that stranded people would lose contact with officials as cellphone batteries died.

“It is scary,” he said, adding that Grand Bahama’s airport was almost two meters underwater and that people were moving shelters as floodwaters kept surging. “We’re definitely in dire straits.”

‘Small deviation’ could draw storm’s core to land

While it was expected to stay offshore, meteorologist Daniel Brown cautioned that “only a small deviation” could draw the storm’s dangerous core toward land.

A mandatory evacuation of entire South Carolina coast took effect Monday covering about 830,000 people, and transportation officials reversed all lanes of Interstate 26 from Charleston to head inland earlier than planned after noticing traffic jams from evacuees and vacationers heading home on Labour Day, Gov. Henry McMaster said.

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

Authorities in Florida also ordered some mandatory evacuations.

Watch as a woman offers a first-hand account of the storm from Freeport:

Kimberly Mullings tells CBC News about how people are trapped in their homes in Freeport, Bahamas. 1:20

FlightAware.com reported that that airlines had cancelled 1,361 flights within, into or out of the US by Monday afternoon — vastly above an average day — with Fort Lauderdale International the most affected, and airlines had already cancelled 1,057 flights for Tuesday, many involving Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports.

A hurricane watch was in effect for Florida’s East Coast from Deerfield Beach north to South Santee River in South Carolina. A storm surge watch was extended northward to South Santee River in South Carolina. Lake Okeechobee was under a tropical storm watch.

A National Guard official, John Anderson, said many people were complying with the evacuation orders.

“We have not seen much resistance at all,” he said.

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