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Hurricane Dorian: At Least 5 Dead In Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian satellite

Here are the latest developments on Hurricane Dorian:

At Least 5 Dead In Bahamas

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says at least five people have died in the Abaco Islands as Hurricane Dorian continues to pound the region as a Category 4 storm.

Minnis said Monday that there are also people in nearby Great Bahama island who are in serious distress. He said rescue crews will respond to calls for help as soon as weather conditions allow.

He said many homes and buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed.

He said: "We are in the midst of a historic tragedy."

At least one storm-related death was reported earlier in Puerto Rico.

The storm remained stationary over Grand Bahama late Monday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph.

American Airlines cancels flights over Dorian

American Airlines says it has canceled 375 flights through Wednesday due to Hurricane Dorian.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier said flights were canceled because operations have been suspended at seven airports it flies to in Florida and the Bahamas. It said there could be additional issues and delays throughout the week at other East Coast airports.

To help people evacuate, American is capping single-leg, main cabin fares at $499 from all cities covered by travel alerts in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It's also waiving fees for bags and pets.

Walt Disney World will close early because of Hurricane Dorian

Disney World officials said Monday that its four theme parks will close by 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

The theme park resort also plans to close its water park, miniature golf courses and its restaurants and shops at Disney Springs by 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Disney World officials say its resorts will remain open.

Its campground will close at 3 p.m. Tuesday and stay closed until the hurricane passes near the Florida coast. Guests at the campground will be relocated to other resorts at Disney World.

Florida's busiest airport is going to close for Hurricane Dorian

Officials at Orlando International Airport said Monday that commercial operations at the airport would cease at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Airport officials say wind speeds at the airport could reach up to 45 mph (72.4 kph), preventing the safe operation of the airport's people mover system.

Uncertainty about the hurricane's path and the need to make storm preparations also contributed to the decision.

The airport had originally been set to close at 2 a.m. Monday, but airport officials rescinded that plan as the hurricane slowed down and its projected path shifted more north.

Some 47.7 million passengers traveled through the airport last year.

 
Coastal Residents Begin Evacuations
 
Mandatory evacution orders for low-lying and flood-prone areas and mobile homes were in effect starting either Sunday or Monday from Palm Beach County north to at least the Daytona Beach area, and some counties to the north issued voluntary evacuation notices.

Weekend traffic was light in Florida despite those orders, unlike during the chaotic run-up to Hurricane Irma in 2017 when the unusually broad storm menaced the entire state.

Ken Graham, director of the hurricane center, urged people not to bet on safety just because the forecast track had the storm a bit offshore. With every new forecast, "we keep nudging (Dorian's track) a little bit to the left" — that is, is closer to the Florida coast, Graham said.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an order Sunday for the mandatory evacuation of his state's entire coast. The order, which covers about 830,000 people, was to take effect at noon Monday, at which point state troopers were to make all lanes on major coastal highways one-way heading inland.

"We can't make everybody happy, but we believe we can keep everyone alive," McMaster said.

A few hours later, Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, ordered mandatory evacuations for that state's Atlantic coast, also starting at midday Monday.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned his state that it could see heavy rain, winds and floods later in the week.

WEATHER: Storm track, hourly outlooks, 7-day forecasts and weather alerts

The Latest On The Track: 4p.m.

Hurricane Dorian's ferocious winds have weakened just a bit as the storm hovers over the Bahamas and gives the islands a merciless pounding.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 4 p.m. EDT Monday that the Category 4 storm's maximum sustained winds fell to 145 mph— down from 155 mph earlier in the day.

On Sunday, Dorian blasted the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph, tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall.

The storm was expected to slowly move northeast, but on Monday afternoon it remained about 25 miles northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama island. It was about 105 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The center said Dorian is expected to move "dangerously close" to the Florida east coast late Monday through Wednesday evening and then move north to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday night and Thursday.

READ MORE: Dorian At A Virtual Standstill, Looms Off Florida Coast As A Category 5

Power Companies Ready To Respond To Outages

Energy companies in Florida have begun preparations to assist with an emergency response as millions could lose power during Hurricane Dorian.

According to Florida Power & Light, nearly 16,000 workers – including out-of-state utilities and contractors – are available to assist over 24 staging sites and be deployed to assist areas hard-hit by the powerful Category 5 storm.

"We will likely see significant destruction that could require extended restoration efforts and may require crews to rebuild parts of our energy grid – a labor-intensive task that could be measured in weeks, not days," FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy said in a news release. "We're better prepared for hurricanes now than any time in FPL's history, but no electric company is hurricane-proof.

"That said, we're committed to restoring power safely and as quickly as possible for our customers."

FPL warns that a large part of its service could experience numerous and "potentially prolonged" power outages, especially if debris caused by Dorian's strong winds hamper restoration efforts.

In addition, Duke Energy says it has 6,500 crews are gathered in Florida and ready to respond.

During a Tuesday news conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said almost 28,000 linemen, tree crews, and support personnel across the state are ready to respond to power outages.

To report power outages:

Duke Energy: Call 800-419-6356 or text OUT to 57801

FPL: Call 1-800-4-OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243)

TECO: Call 877-588-1010 or text OUT to 35069

Lakeland Electric: (863) 834-4248

'Huge Damage' As Dorian Pounds Bahamas
In a slow, relentless advance, a catastrophic Hurricane Dorian kept pounding at the northern Bahamas early Monday, as one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded left wrecked homes, shredded roofs, tumbled cars and toppled power poles in its wake.

The storm's top sustained winds decreased slightly to 165 mph (265 kph) as its westward movement slowed, crawling along Grand Bahama island early Monday at 1 mph (1.6 kph) in what forecasters said would be a daylong assault. Earlier, Dorian churned over Abaco island with battering winds and surf during Sunday.

There was little information from the affected islands, though officials expected many residents to be left homeless. Most people went to shelters as the storm approached, with tourist hotels shutting down and residents boarded up their homes.

"It's devastating," Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas' Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said Sunday afternoon. "There has been huge damage to property and infrastructure. Luckily, no loss of life reported."

On Sunday, Dorian's maximum sustained winds reached 185 mph (297 kph), with gusts up to 220 mph (354 kph), tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall. That equaled the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph (305 kph) winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

Forecasters said Dorian was most likely to begin pulling away from the Bahamas early Tuesday and curving to the northeast parallel to the U.S. Southeast seaboard. Still, the potent storm was expected to stay close to shore and hammer the coast with dangerous winds and heavy surf, while authorities cautioned that it could still make landfall.

In some parts of Abaco, "you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. According to the Nassau Guardian, he called it "probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people."

Bahamas radio station ZNS Bahamas reported that a mother and child on Grand Bahama had called to say they were sheltering in a closet and seeking help from police.

Silbert Mills, owner of the Bahamas Christian Network, said trees and power lines were torn down in Abaco.

"The winds are howling like we've never, ever experienced before," said Mills, who was riding out the hurricane with his family in the concrete home he built 41 years ago on central Abaco.

WEATHER: Storm track, hourly outlooks, 7-day forecasts and weather alerts

Tolls Suspended In Florida

Tolls were suspended Sunday on Florida’s Turnpike and other roads in South Florida and Central Florida, as local mandatory evacuation orders started and large portions of the state’s East Coast continued to face threats from catastrophic Hurricane Dorian.

In anticipation of increased traffic from people evacuating, tolls charges were lifted on Florida’s Turnpike, Alligator Alley, the Homestead Extension from the turnpike, the Sawgrass Expressway and the Beachline Expressway.

The Division of Emergency Management reported nearly 28,000 utility line workers, tree crews and support staff have been staged in the state in advance of the storm.

Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.