GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND – Hurricane Dorian is barely moving as it continues to lash Grand Bahama Island with fierce winds.
As it lingers over the Bahamas — just 100 miles away from West Palm Beach — the storm is carving a path of devastation: knocking homes to the ground and claiming the lives of at least five people, among them an 8-year-old boy.
Dorian — now downgraded to a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds — will remain stationary over the island through late Tuesday morning when it will begin to head north, CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. It is still forecast to approach Florida Tuesday night through Wednesday evening, pass very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and then roll “near or over” the North Carolina coast late Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Dorian no longer poses a threat to Florida in terms of landfall, but coastal residents will still feel the impacts, CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.
“Widespread tropical storm force gusts, heavy rain and heavy storm surge are still in the forecast for the Florida coast for the next couple of days,” all of which can lead to power outages, flooding and other disasters, he said.
The state will continue feeling the storm’s effects Tuesday with expected heavy rains, the National Weather Center said.
“An additional rain band from #Dorian is moving inland to Palm Beach county,” the weather center said. “Gusty winds and heavy rain will occur, and if this rain falls over areas with pre-existing ponded water, localized flooding may develop.”
Rains capable of flooding regions of the southeast and lower mid-Atlantic US would continue through Friday, the weather center said.
US prepares for storm
Millions across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas are under hurricane and tropical storm alerts.
In Florida, where the hurricane’s outer bands have already arrived, 17 counties are under evacuation.
A 68-year-old man in the state died while preparing for the storm.
David Allen Bradley was putting up plywood when he fell three stories to his death, Indialantic Police Department Chief Mike Connor told CNN.
Bradley was on a small ladder trying to cover up the windows to his home Sunday afternoon. His wife was inside at the moment of the incident and ran outside when she heard the crash. By the time police got there, it was too late, Connor said.
In Indian River County, authorities said they were concerned about residents refusing to leave. If those people encounter an emergency, first responders won’t be able to help if the storm gets too strong, Maj. Eric Flowers said.
“It’s going to be difficult for us to get out to the barrier islands after the storm. … This is a slow-moving storm, so we’re concerned that those folks might get isolated out there for a time until Dorian actually passes and it’s safe for our first responders to get out there to them,” Martin County Emergency Management Director Michele Jones.
Nearly 1,100 flights going in and out of Florida had been canceled by early Tuesday, data from Flightaware.com showed.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp issued evacuation orders for 12 counties, urging residents to get out.
“This storm remains a critical threat to Georgia,” Kemp said, according to CNN affiliate WSB. “This storm is not moving. It’s massive. I would not take any chances. It’s not worth the risk of riding it out.”
The governor also ordered 2,000 Georgia National Guardsmen to assist with hurricane preparation, response and recovery efforts.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also issued mandatory evacuations for coastal counties which will go into effect Tuesday at noon.
Dorian kills five in Bahamas
Among the five people confirmed dead across the islands was an 8-year-old boy.
Ingrid McIntosh told Eyewitness News she believes her grandson died in the rising waters. Her 31-year-old daughter found the boy’s body, she told the local news outlet. She says her granddaughter is also missing.
“I just saw my grandson about two days ago,” McIntosh said. “He told me he loved me. He was going back to Abaco, he turned around and said, ‘Grandma, I love you.'”
Bahamian officials said Monday it was still difficult to assess the number of casualties amid the continuing dire conditions.
“It’s not safe to go outdoors,” Bahamian Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield said. “Power lines are down. Lamp posts are down. Trees are across the street. It is very dangerous to be outdoors.”
Monday night, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the storm would continue battering Grand Bahama Island for “many more hours.”
“We know that there are a number of people in serious distress,” he said. “We pray for their safety and will provide relief and assistance as soon as possible.”
One resident from Marsh Harbour, an Abaco Island town, told CNN he saw people walking in waist-deep waters and a house that had flipped over.
Minnis said initial reports from Abaco suggest “the devastation is unprecedented and extensive.”
“Many homes, businesses and other buildings have been completely or partially destroyed,” he said.