ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As Hurricane Dorian continues to lash Florida as it moves north toward Georgia and the Carolinas, residents in the Bahamas are dealing with vast devastation left behind.
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Dorian’s crashing waves along Florida’s coastline are expected to have lasting effects on the state’s beaches.
"When we have storm surge and tide it allows the waves to reach parts of the dune that are normally not eroded during a normal day, so those waves start to attack the dune, start to erode it, they may overtop it or they might erode the dune completely," said Kara Doran, U.S. Geological Service oceanographer.
Doran showed us the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal, a real-time map that has a red line along Florida’s east coast, indicating a prediction of long-lasting and widespread beach erosion.
“It's a slow moving storm, so it's impacting the beaches over multiple days and high tide cycles,” said Doran.
Crews recently installed more than 200 storm sensors from Georgia to Florida that will help measure and monitor the tides height and duration.
“Our entire coastline of the Atlantic coastline of Florida is going to be impacted by this high surge and high waves," said Doran.
The research will help scientists determine Dorian’s long-term impact.
11 a.m. Wednesday
Coast Guard continues response operations in the Bahamas. So far they have rescued 61 people and four pets. Crews are currently conducting air operations based out of Andros Island, Bahamas. 17 shallow-water rescue boats are standing by to respond.
8:30 a.m. Wednesday
Bahamians rescued victims of Hurricane Dorian with jet skis and a bulldozer as the U.S. Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and a handful of aid groups tried to get food and medicine to survivors and take the most desperate people to safety.
Meanwhile, people on the North and South Carolina coasts made final preparations for a storm with winds at a still-dangerous 105 mph, making it a Category 2 storm.
The death toll in the Bahamas due to Hurricane Dorian has risen to seven, according to prime minister Hubert Minnis.
Minnis said the deaths involved two people previously reported as injured.
Minnis went on to say he'd flown over the Abaco Islands and seen groups of people waving yellow sheets and shirts. He said 60 percent of homes were damaged in Marsh Harbor on the island and that at least one community was completely destroyed.
The U.S. Coast Guard's Hurricane Dorian response is underway, and crews from Air Station Clearwater are involved in the effort.
"They're flying in some of the worst conditions you could see. Hurricane force winds, near-zero visibility and it comes in waves and bands," said Captain Joe McGilley of Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater.
On Monday, four Jayhawk aircrews finished five medical evacuations. Nineteen people were airlifted from Marsh Harbour Clinic to upgraded medical facilities in Nassau.
"The Bahamian authorities had done a great job of preparing and mustering folks at the local clinic. When we arrived there, we helped to triage the critically injured patients and move them to Nassau for a higher level of medical care," said McGilley.
Additional aircraft left Clearwater on Tuesday. They will be involved in search and rescue missions as well as bringing critical supplies to the hurricane ravaged region.
"Operations will continue working with Bahamian forces for at least the next few days, but it depends on what Dorian does," said Petty Officer Ayla Kelley, a Coast Guard public affairs officer stationed in Clearwater. "We also have plans to shift support to the U.S. depending on the effects of the storm."
— Laurie Davison
The Florida State Fairgrounds has offered to be a safe haven for east coast residents who have evacuated with their horses due to Hurricane Dorian.
"We probably have a little over 100 stalls reserved," said COO Mike Rogalsky. "We are just continuing to get those calls. Folks are monitoring the storm."
The Florida State Fairgrounds is one of the largest equine facilities in the state with 471 concrete stalls. Anyone who wants to reserve a stall must pay a $50 non-refundable deposit fee, fill out an online application and pay $25 per day, per stall.
"We have been on standby accepting applications for individuals to bring their horses out here,” said Rogalsky. "We want to make sure that we're accepting those on a first come, first serve basis, that are going to be in the most impacted areas.”
Rogalsky said the Florida State Fairgrounds hosted a horse show over Labor Day weekend that had about 200 entries. A family from Seminole County decided to stay after the show and wait out the storm with their horses.
Rogalsky said they have about 20 local horse evacuees too.
"We've had a lot of rain here in the Hillsborough County area,” he said. “So, we do have a lot of local horses from some those lower lying areas in the county. The Lithia, the Riverview area."
— Josh Rojas
Search and rescue efforts are underway in the Bahamas.
After more than two days of storms, residents from Grand Bahama and the Abacos are now seeing the extent of the damages.
Freelance journalist and Bahamas native Kim Mullings has been using social media since the start of the storm to locate the missing. On Tuesday, when the winds died down, she hit the road.
"As I'm getting the information that they might not be able to get, I've been dispersing it,” said Mullings. “If I know that this family knows this family or they're in the same area, I might have a friend who may be able to check on somebody."
But as she continues her work, she's also worried about her own family.
"I still don't know where my nephew is,” she said. “I still don't know where he is. Hopefully I get word from him today as things are starting to settle down a bit."
She said she’s proud of what she’s seen from her community who have banded together to help each other out in a time of need.
“People have left their homes with nothing but underwear,” Mullings said. “The just have the clothes on their backs, after spending more than 24 hours on a roof."
While local officials are tied up with their rescue efforts, she believes if she continues helping, others will pay it forward.
"It's hard not to think of yourself in moments like this but then remembering, 'hey there's a bigger picture,'” said Mullings. “Me helping out somebody might lead to maybe they know my nephew."
— Roy De Jesus
The Florida Aquarium is offering admission for the flat rate of $15 through Friday to help provide a fun and educational diversion for families affected to Hurricane Dorian.
As part of "Community Days," general admission tickets will be $15 Sept. 3 through Sept. 6.
“The fact that we launched 'Community Days' just gives people an opportunity to get out of their house, unwind, relax, have fun, and connect with nature in a very fun way,” said Roger Germann, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium.
Germann tells us aside from the stress that comes with a hurricane, he knows it can also take a financial toll.
“We wanted to give them an opportunity to come and save a little bit in their wallets, but also recharge that mental battery as well,” said Germann.
"Community Days" tickets can be purchased on-site or online.
— Ashley Paul
With Hurricane Dorian threatening Florida's east coast, Feeding Tampa Bay, which feeds 700,000 food-insecure people every day, is preparing to feed countless more in the days ahead.
Volunteers with Feeding Tampa Bay are busy assembling disaster relief kits to go into areas impacted by the storm, whether it be in or out of state. The resources will be sent to other member food banks in those areas.
“We want to make sure that it's a product that you would have in your own home,” said Darlene Buell, a Feeding Tampa Bay Volunteer Leader.
Volunteers like Buell are working hard to get food ready to go into the areas impacted by Dorian.
The organization responds in phases.
“In the immediate aftermath of the storm we would have something like an MRE, which is an item that anyone can use without power, said Thomas Matz, President of Feeding Tampa Bay.
“Secondarily, we would have items that folks can use if they're without power or compromised that would allow them to make just basic meals,” Matz added.
Based on the current track, the organization expects to take disaster relief kits into Polk and Highlands Counties and along the East Coast as far as needed.
Feeding Tampa Bay is part of Feeding America, Feeding Florida and the Hillsborough County EOC.
— Melissa Eichman
12:30 p.m. Tuesday along the Treasure Coast
Most of the treasure coast is still a ghost town. It has been a long few days here watching and waiting. Now a weaker hurricane Dorian is finally moving north.
The storm was a marathon of hurry up and wait for much Florida‘s East Coast. Families have been cooped up for days waiting for Dorian to make a move.
"We are feeling better about it," said one resident. "It would be nice if it would get moving. We’re getting kind of cooped up here. We have to go out. The kids don’t like to sit in the house for 36 hours. They are a little bored. We feel really bad for the Bahamas. We hope it gets out of there for their sake. Then we can all go back to rebuilding."
They are feeling like they can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
7 a.m. Tuesday
It’s not just Floridians anxiously waiting and watching Hurricane Dorian, several states in the Southeast are too. At least five states from Florida to Virginia are in State of Emergency and the Red Cross estimates as many as 60,000 people will need help.
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina residents boarded up their homes before evacuating inland. Storm surge is their primary concern. A storm surge warning is in effect from Lantana, Florida to the Savannah River at the border between Georgia and South Carolina.
Hospitals in Augusta, Georgia are preparing for evacuees from those coastal areas, and trucks filled with supplies are headed to shelters there. One shelter said it’s prepared to take in at least 150 people.
The Red Cross started preparing a week ago, taking donations and preparing to stage more schools here in Augusta as shelters. “We are looking at Dorian to be similar to our response with Hurricane Irma two years ago, where we sheltered a little over 3000 people. We had 16 shelters that we opened then and that's the type of response we are looking at," said Susan Everitt, Augusta Red Cross.
Red Cross volunteers from around the country are deploying to the East Coast right now to be in place and ready to help. The Red Cross is accepting donations for those impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
Florida airports are closing ahead Hurricane Dorian.
Orlando International Airport has announced it will cease operations at 2 am on Tuesday.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Orlando Melbourne International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport are also closed.
Tampa International Airport is open and expects to remain open, but some flights are canceled or delayed because of other airport closures.
Lisa Bailey flew in to Tampa Friday and said she moved her departure flight home to Baltimore up on Monday to avoid being stranded.
"I work as a consultant and knew I needed to get back, so I changed both the in and out flights but thankfully the weather is clear right now and I should have smooth sailing going home tonight," she said.
Silver Airways has canceled all of its flights at TPA until Wednesday morning.
Nationwide, more than 1,000 flights have been canceled and thousands more delayed.
Duke Energy is sending additional manpower and heavy equipment to Florida to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The equipment is coming from all over the country and Canada and is expected to arrive before Wednesday. Meanwhile, 700 linemen are already in Florida awaiting orders on where they’ll be sent.
“We’re kind of going into the unknown, so we really don’t know what we’re going to be facing until the storm passes,” said Clint Carnahan, an operations manager with Duke Energy normally based in Cincinnati.
Duke Energy had been monitoring Dorian since it first appeared as a tropical disturbance more than a week ago. The storm is already affecting Floridians even though it has yet to make landfall in the U.S.
“We actually have starting seeing some impacts from the storm,” said Katherine Stempien, president of Duke Energy Florida. “Those outer bands of the storm are starting to come onshore, and as of about 2:00 p.m. Monday, we were starting to see storm-related outages.”
While Hurricane Dorian slowed to a crawl over the northern Bahamas, battering the islands with 140+ mile per hour winds and heavy rain, U.S. mainland residents with growing desperation to hear from relatives in the islands and confirm that they were safe.
For Dominique Alexander of Haines City, whose sister, Chiante McIntosh Russell, was stuck on Abaco Island with her husband and children, the wait to hear something was 24 hours.
"You know I done cried all night looking for you, girl," Alexander told Russell as they communicated over WhatsApp.
"We didn't have service," Russell replied. Then the call dropped.
Around the same time, Alexander said she had a brief video call with Russell's husband, who painted a horrifying picture of what they were experiencing.
"Sounds like he said 'we’re in a clinic. We had to get shelter. Everything is gone. The roof is gone. It’s all messed up here. Nothing is left,'” Alexander said.
They sent her a picture of them in the shelter, and video of their home. Water could be seen covering the floors and high enough to cover their bathtub.
Alexander said hearing their voices was such a relief.
“I can actually have a really good day now just to know they’re OK because I was starting to think the worst,” she said.
Alexander hopes her father will be able to rescue them in his yacht soon. She hasn’t been able to get in contact with him.
Meanwhile, her aunt, Rose Sands, is stranded in Haines City. Her flight back home to Nassau canceled due to the storm. She also used WhatsApp to video chat with her other daughter, and learned her home in Nassau is flooded.
“My daughter just showed me some pictures. My whole house is under water. I’m flooded out again. Last hurricane I lost my roof,” said Rose Sands, crying and frustrated.
Sands said she’s grateful to be alive and with grandkids. She’s hoping she won’t have to endure anymore heartache as Dorian makes its way to Florida.
First responders from Manatee County joined others from the Bay area heading to lend a hand on the east coast when needed.
Over the Labor Day holiday, firefighters, medics and engineers made their way to the Orange County Convention Center base in Orlando. From there, they'll be sent out to counties affected by the storm.
“We can do anything from search and rescue to debris clearing,” says Bradenton Fire Lt. Ernesto Peña. “We are prepared to do just about anything.”
Officials say pooling resources like these helps everyone work more efficiently and quickly for those in need.
“It’s an honor to do this,” says Chief of East Manatee Fire Rescue. “It’s what we do, it’s in our DNA.”
The crews will be serving the east coast for around 10 days until Hurricane Dorian has cleared.
Other bases on the coast include Miami and Jacksonville.
The government of the Bahamas has reported the first official deaths attributed to Hurricane Dorian.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Monday that at least five people have died in the Abaco Islands.
Emergency crews with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission left the Tampa Bay area Monday as they prepared their response to Hurricane Dorian.
The FWC Southwest Special Operations Group has been through Mother Nature's wrath before.
In 2017, they traveled to Texas and used their boats to rescue more than 100 people from the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey.
And just last year, the group helped Floridians recover after Hurricane Michael.
Captain Bill Holcomb has been responding to storms with the FWC Special Operations Group for 14 years.
"This is the most important thing we do," Holcomb said. "That's why we sign up to do this job because we want to save lives and protect the citizens of Florida."
The crew from the Southwest region of Florida left Monday to meet up with the National Guard and Urban Search and Rescue crews.
Young said the response will be determined by the force of the storm and whether Hurricane Dorian makes landfall or causes flooding.
Another group could be called up to respond after the storm, if needed.
Orlando International Airport announced they will cease operations starting at 2 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the suspension of toll fees on these Florida toll roads.
A few other roads were added Monday:
- Alligator Alley
- Florida's Turnpike Mainline (SR 91), including the Homestead Extension (SR 821)
- Sawgrass Expressway (SR 869)
- Beachline Expressway (SR 528)
- First Coast Expressway (SR 23)
- SR 417
- SR 429
- I-95 Express Lanes
- I-595 Express Lanes
- I-75 Express Lanes
- I-295 Express Lanes
Service plazas along Florida’s Turnpike mainline will be open for travelers; however, the plazas do not serve as hurricane shelters. As the storm approaches, restaurants and fuel stations will be closed and Turnpike personnel evacuated.
Additionally, the Central Florida Expressway Authority suspended tolls on these road:
- SR 408
- SR 414
- SR 451
- SR 453
- SR 538
- SR 551
Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater crews are staging at Andros Island in the Bahamas in preparation for Hurricane Dorian response. The crews include health service technicians
Ride sharing services Uber and Lyft are offering credits toward rides to and from state-approved evacuation shelters. Both services are using the promo code DORIANRELIEF. Check Uber's website or Lyft's website for more details.
As of noon Monday, September 2, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes in Flagler County have been ordered to evacuate from Zones A, B, and F, and flood prone areas.
For Flagler evacuation zones A, B, and F, a curfew will go in effect at 7 p.m. Tuesday and last until the storm has passed and officials have given an all clear.
Water is already high along the St. Johns River, which flows through Seminole County.
One family there is still rebuilding after damage from Hurricane Irma.
The Hurleys couldn’t live in their home for 19 months Irma flooding damaged it. They live right on Lake Jesup, not far from State Road 417's Lake Jesup Bridge, and they're closely watching the water.
They are hoping with the raising of their home, they won’t get flooded out this time no matter what Dorian brings.
“The view's much better, and the flooding risk of the upper story is not here anymore. That cost us a lot of money when we flooded last time, and we were out of the house 19 months. That won't happen again, I hope," Joe Hurley said.
Concerned about high wind, they are boarding up windows and nailing down some of the house that’s still under construction.
Right now, the St. Johns River in Seminole County is at action stage, one level below flood stage.
People in and around Flagler Beach are facing potential flooding. Many of them have experienced it before.
Beverly Beach was very quiet early Monday afternoon, aside from people doing some last-minute storm preps.
In a seaside retirement community, many of the residents are well into their 90s. The community’s president said got some of the older residents out and took them to shelters, but there were still some who decided to stay.
Tim Arnold, who lives at Surfside Estates, says he’s lived there through three big storms and he isn’t leaving.
"When you live a certain number of years, you just realize this is just for me. But whatever God gives in your life, He can take you out of it," Arnold said. "So while we’re not going to sit here, obviously, if there’s a change in the weather report, I think we’re OK for today."
The intracostal also backs right up to the retirement community, so residents are facing flooding from both directions.
Law enforcement officers shut down the Flagler Beach Pier this morning until further notice.
The pier has taken a beating from prior hurricanes over the years, and it's not as long as it once was.
"The storm might take the pier out, and there won’t be any pier for fishing. Therefore, I have a memory that I was there on the last day of the pier," Aby Moghanaki said.
But it's still standing.
"If you look at the bottom of the wood when you’re walking, they’re all the memories of people who fished here who passed away. Or they’re married or engaged. There are memories that are going to get lost," Moghanaki said.
"You always hope that if it gets damaged they can repair it."
Mandatory evacuations are in effect for beachside Brevard County, and for one particularly vulnerable area, people are heeding the warning.
It's the Melbourne Beach Mobile Home Park, where many of the RVs and campers are normally lined up right near the ocean.
Part-time residents made the call to evacuate and take their campers with them.
As the churning surf grows stronger, busy oceanside State Road A1A has the potential for massive flooding.
Trent Sorrell said his family owns more than 50 lots on beachside. They've been spending the last few days securing their properties and making sure residents are getting out before the storm.
This part of south Melbourne Beach is narrow, wedged right between the ocean and the Indian River.