ORLANDO, Fla. — As an extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian pounded the Bahamas on Monday afternoon, Floridians were preparing for the storm's brush up the east coast.
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The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted at least 25 people injured on Abaco Island in The Bahamas so far.
Officials say they received a "tremendous" number of calls from people trapped in flooded homes. At least two designated storm shelters were also flooded.
Five people have died.
The city of Cocoa Beach says a mandatory evacuation is in full effect. Bridges do not close prior to the storm, so officials are urging people to leave now if they haven't already done so.
Major damage is expected to marinas, docks, boardwalks and piers along Brevard County's coast. — Krystel Knowles, reporting in Cocoa Beach
The U.S. Coast Guard is on the ground in the Bahamas, helping to pull people to safety.
Helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater carried dozens of people from the Marsh Harbour clinic on Andros Island to Nassau International Airport. All of them had medical conditions, and ranged from children to the elderly.
It's one of several Coast Guard missions happening right now.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent says as many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed in The Bahamas, according to reports from authorities and Red Cross officials on the ground.
At least 5 people have died in The Bahamas so far.
The city of Melbourne Beach has issued a curfew at 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. in preparation for Hurricane Dorian.
Ride sharing services Uber and Lyft are offering credits toward rides to and from state-approved evacuation shelters EXCEPT in Brevard County. Both services are using the promo code DORIANRELIEF. Check Uber's website or Lyft's website for more details.
In Brevard County, Uber will suspend operations at midnight tonight for the safety of drivers and passengers.
Residents of a Flagler County retirement community prone to flooding are being told they must evacuate or stay at their own risk.
The president of the Surfside Estates, which is right on the intracoastal waterway, says she made sure to transport many of their residents, who are well into their 90s. But there are some residents who refused to evacuate.
One resident says she’s lived through two storms already and had to rebuild.
"We’re still here. We’ve rebuilt twice, and I don’t know about a third time," Surfside Estates resident Debbie Whitlock said.
Another nearby resident says he’s packed up and ready to go.
"We live right across the street from the ocean, and with the uncertainty of this storm and what we’ve been watching on TV, it was a choice we had to make," Beverly Beach resident Anthony Clay said.
Many of the other residents who live in neighboring communities have evacuated, while others say they’re waiting at least one more day to decide.
As power crews prepare to work on damaged power lines caused by Hurricane Dorian, many customers are worried about how long the power will be out, and when it will get restored.
Going back three years ago to Hurricane Matthew, we found residents who say they lost power for a week — even though the storm did very little damage to their area. So what can you expect?
Officials at Florida Power & Light say customers who get top priority are those communities that have essential services, like police, fire, and hospitals.
Residential area without essential services are often placed lower on the priority list.
For more information on FP&L's prioritization policies, head to their website.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says at least five people have died in the Abaco Islands.
Orlando International Airport officials say that because the facility may get tropical storm force winds Tuesday, the airport will stop operations at 2 a.m. Tuesday, September 3. Travelers are urged to contact individual airlines for changes to flight schedules.
About 100 residents of Good Samaritan Society Kissimmee Village, which is under a mandatory evacuation order, have decided to stay.
With 1,500 seniors, the Kissimmee Village is Good Samaritan Society’s largest U.S. campus. It was severely flooded during Hurricane Irma, when water levels in nearby Shingle Creek were at an all-time high.
The seniors at the village can’t be physically forced out of their homes, but officials said they have been warned.
Flood conditions will require the campus to shut down the wastewater treatment plant, and residents will not have access to utilities.
Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry said emergency responders will have limited ability to rescue stranded residents. She is pleading all seniors to get out.
“Just be careful, just go," she implored residents. "There’s buses available to take people. Now is the time, because it’s early enough. So my message is please make sure you are safe by leaving and going to the shelters that have been provided,” Choudhry said.
"If you choose to stay, know that unfortunately, we may not be able to get to you.”
As for the vacated homes left behind, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will have a crew of deputies patrolling the campus to ensure that the homes won’t be left unprotected.
In Flagler Beach, places such as Finn’s Beachside Pub right on State Road A1A are boarded up and have sand bags in place — but are still open for business. The general manager says that after getting storm ready, his customers don’t just want to sit at home and wait.
“It’s a good way to let people get their stress out and their anxiety and have some fun doing it. Plus, there are a lot of people who are sightseers, you know, they want to see this, experience it," Grant Tarpley said.
Tarpley says they plan to be out here until midnight tonight and then come back tomorrow morning to complete all their storm preparations until police tell them to pack up and go.
Everything will have to come to an end at 7 p.m. tomorrow, which is the curfew for the evacuation zones. Flagler Beach is in a mandatory evacuation zone.
Emergency officials in Fort Pierce are warning residents that Dorian could come within 40 miles of the coastline.
They’re expecting tropical storm force winds tonight possibly as early as 6 p.m., which is about 40 to 50 mph winds.
Although that's anywhere near the 150 mph sustained winds battering the Bahamas, it’s still enough to damage buildings, knock out power lines and trees, and flood roads.
Officials in the Fort Pierce area also are expecting major beach erosion and life threatening storm surge and have ordered mandatory evacuations of the barrier islands.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly gives an update on shelters, sandbags and gives warnings to residents and criminals.
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.
Due to Hurricane Dorian, garbage, recycling, large items and yard waste will not be collected for residents of unincorporated Orange County on Wednesday, September 4. This will be the third day of no service including Monday, September 2, and Tuesday, September 3.
Flagler County has ordered the evacuations of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes for zones A, B and F, plus those in areas that are prone to flooding.
Those residents in the areas mentioned, including low-lying areas and mobile homes, should evacuate at the county's order, officials stated.
A curfew for those evacuation zones will go into effect on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and it will last until officials have given the all clear.
"There are shelters that will be available as soon as the order is issued at noon. Bunnell Elementary, located at 305 N. Palmetto, will open at noon Monday, Sept. 2 for the general population and pets. Rymfire Elementary, located at 1425 Rymfire Drive, is open for those with special medical needs who live in zones A, B, F, flood prone areas, and mobile homes, or require electricity for medical needs regardless of zone," the county stated.
In addition, the City of Palm Coast wants residents to reduce their water consumption as much as possible so the waste sewer system is not operating at full capacity in case the treatment plant is without elelectricity
"It is especially important for residents with PEP tanks (Pretreatment Effluent Pumping System) to drastically decrease water usage if they lose electricity. PEP tanks will not empty into the wastewater system if there is no power. If the tank fills to capacity, there is a risk it could back up into your home," officials warned.
— Spectrum News Staff
As Hurricane Dorian has battered on the Bahamas, Disney Cruise released a statement that its crews would be staying on Castaway Cay during the storm.
"Some of our Crew remained on the island and their care and safety is our highest priority," Disney said in a statement on Monday, adding that people have returned to their living quarters after spending a few hours in a storm shelter on Sunday.
— Jesse Canales
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.
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.
Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the suspension of toll fees on these Florida toll roads:
- Alligator Alley
- The 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
In addition to the roads above, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has suspended tolls on the following:
- SR 408
- SR 414
- SR 451
- SR 453
- SR 538
- SR 551
Osceola County is under an overnight curfew starting 11 p.m., Tuesday, September 3, until 6 a.m., Wednesday, September 4. It will remain in effect until further notice.