A Hurricane warning has been issued for a stretch of Florida’s Atlantic coast and a mandatory evacuation of South Carolina’s entire coast as well as parts of Georgia was ordered Sunday as powerful Hurricane Dorian threatens the United States.
Around 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center issued its first hurricane warning for parts of Florida related to Dorian.
The warning affected areas from Juniper Inlet, in Palm Beach County — stretching from the state’s Atlantic coast into its rural center — to the Volusia-Brevard County line. A hurricane watch also was issued from the Volusia-Brevard County line to the Flagler-Volusia County line.
The storm was about 175 miles east of Palm Beach and moving to the west at 5 mph on Sunday evening.
In a news conference on Sunday, after the Hurricane warning had been issued, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “We are continuing to make all necessary precautions in urging people out in the state of Florida to make their preparations, heed evacuation orders. This storm has tracked further west, slightly, but still further west than we had hoped.”
DeSantis said Dorian was expected to approach closer to the Florida coast.
“The storm has slowed down but we do need it to slow down just a little bit more to ensure when it turns north that it’s not impacting directly the Florida coast. And, we cannot say that that is not a possibility, and so I think it’s important that we prepare for this to potentially make landfall here,” DeSantis said.
South Carolina’s Gov. Henry McMaster’s evacuation order, which covered about 830,000 people, is set to go into effect at noon on Monday. That’s when state troopers are expected to start reversing lanes so people could head inland on major coastal highways.
The governor also ordered the mandatory medical evacuation for health care facilities licensed by the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. Beginning Tuesday, all schools and government offices in Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry counties will be forced to stay closed, officials said.
The order will mark the fourth time in four years that hundreds of thousands will be forced to evacuate.
McMaster said he realized some people won’t be happy having to evacuate, but added, “we believe we can keep everyone alive.”
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted on Sunday night, “Starting noon tomorrow, individuals east of I-95 in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh Counties must evacuate due to Hurricane #Dorian.”
He encouraged residents to “stay vigilant and be safe.”
Kemp also declared a state of emergency for Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce and Wayne counties.
In an effort to make sure there enough petroleum products, emergency supplies, and food, Kemp also issued an executive order temporarily suspending federal rules and regulations which otherwise would limit the hours that operators of commercial vehicles could drive.
Homes missing parts of their roofs, cars overturned and downed power lines have been reported on the Abaco Islands. One video showed floodwaters rushing through the streets of one town.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said, “you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins” on parts of Abaco. No deaths initially were reported.
The National Hurricane Center has predicted the center of Dorian will stay off shore near the South Carolina coast starting Wednesday afternoon. However, a small error in the forecast could send the eye and strongest winds into the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.