Americans are bracing themselves for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian as the powerful storm slowly makes its way across the Atlantic and toward the US coastline, after it brought “catastrophic” winds and storm surge to the Bahamas.
Dorian, which has been downgraded to category 2, had begun to move northwestward Tuesday morning about 105 miles away from the eastern coast of Florida, according to an update from the US National Hurricane Center. Over the next two days, forecasters at the agency expect Dorian to remain off the coast near Florida and Georgia before moving near or over the Carolinas.
The storm’s impact continued to be felt on Grand Bahama Island, adding to a prolonged period of devastating effects in the region.
Hubert Minnis, the Bahamian prime minister, said there had been five confirmed deaths in the Abaco Islands, in the northern part of the Bahamas.
The storm destroyed or severely damaged as many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas, according to the Red Cross.
The NHC said life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds were expected along portions of the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts, regardless of the exact track Dorian takes. It also said the risk of these effects continued to rise for North Carolina.
The governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency, and officials ordered mandatory evacuations affecting millions of Americans.
President Donald Trump, who cancelled a planned trip to Poland to remain in Washington, has approved emergency declarations for the three southernmost states, freeing up federal resources to co-ordinate and assist with relief efforts there.
In Florida, as evacuations began, governor Ron DeSantis said highway patrol officers would escort fuel trucks to help maintain supplies at petrol stations. By Tuesday morning local time, roughly half of stations in the West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce area and more than a quarter of Miami-Fort Lauderdale stations were out of fuel, according to the website GasBuddy.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport announced it planned to reopen Tuesday afternoon after shutting down a day earlier, while Orlando’s airport was closed on Tuesday. Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights.
US retailers and organisations such as the Red Cross and Team Rubicon have also been preparing for Dorian in recent days.
The American Red Cross said it was mobilising more than 1,600 trained volunteers, 110 emergency response vehicles and at least 99 tractor-trailer loads of supplies.
Home Depot and Lowe’s, the home-improvement retail chains, activated command centres to help quickly move products to stores in affected areas. Lowe’s said on Friday it had shipped more than 600 truckloads of storm supplies to areas that may be affected by Dorian’s path.
UBS said insured losses from Dorian could total $25bn, up from a previous base-case estimate of $15bn.
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