Thursday 19 September 2019

Millions in south-east US ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Dorian sparks flood threat

Florida Department of Transportation members work on the A1A closed coastal route of Vilano Beach due to debris and flooding from Hurricane Dorian, in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
Florida Department of Transportation members work on the A1A closed coastal route of Vilano Beach due to debris and flooding from Hurricane Dorian, in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
A man's facial hair blows in the wind as he takes a selfie along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Emily Hicks (not pictured) of Charleston holds her dog Murphy along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Locals withstand the winds of Hurricane Dorian to check out the beaches in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
Florida Department of Transportation members work on the closed A1A coastal route of Vilano Beach due to debris and flooding from Hurricane Dorian, in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
Beach erosion and debris are seen due to Hurricane Dorian as the A1A coastal route of Vilano Beach is closed, in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
The area around houses is seen flooded due to Hurricane Dorian in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
People walk along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A home is wrapped in caution tape as Florida Department of Transportation fixes the debris from Hurricane Dorian in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
People check out the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Emily Hicks of Charleston holds her dog Murphy along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Sightseers watch waves crash on shore as Hurricane Dorian made it's way off the Florida coast Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in Ormond Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Claudio Galarsa removes storm shutters from the front of the Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill as Hurricane Dorian made its way past Flagler Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Sightseers watch waves crash against the pier in Flagler Beach, Fla., as Hurricane Dorian made its way off the coast Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jen Fabrick, left, and Anne Herring, right, walk through flood waters covering St. Mary's Street at Langs Marina near their homes while Hurricane Dorian passes by on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in St. Mary's, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Chris Creel, manager of Piggly Wiggly, stocks pallets of bottled water as grocery customers prepare for the arrival of storm weather with Hurricane Dorian in New Bern, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)
September 4, 2019 St. Mary's: Cheryl Conners looks over flood waters surrounding Langs Marina near her home during Hurricane Dorian on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in St. Mary's, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Justin Martin, of Local Builders, and George Raspberry, of R&S Masonry, install plywood panels on a house in historic New Bern, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Residents are preparing for storm weather before the reported arrival of Hurricane Dorian. (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)
An aerial view shows the tower of the Freeport airport after hurricane Dorian hit the Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas,September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
An airplane is pictured near the airport after hurricane Dorian hit the Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas,September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
U.S. President Donald Trump and acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan hold up a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chart showing the original projected track of Hurricane Dorian that appears to have been extended with a black line to include parts of the Florida panhandle and of the state of Alabama during a status report meeting on the hurricane in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Meg Kinnard

A weakened Hurricane Dorian crept up the south eastern coast of the United States and millions were ordered to evacuate as forecasters said near-record levels of seawater and rain could inundate the area.

The category two storm, which ravaged the Bahamas with more than a full day of devastating wind and rain, threatened to swamp low-lying regions from Georgia to southeastern Virginia as it moved northward.

Dorian appeared likely to get dangerously near Charleston, which is particularly vulnerable since it is located on a peninsula.

A flood chart posted by the National Weather Service projected a combined high tide and storm surge around Charleston Harbour of 10.3 feet; The record, 12.5 feet, was set by Hugo in 1989.

Emily Hicks (not pictured) of Charleston holds her dog Murphy along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Emily Hicks (not pictured) of Charleston holds her dog Murphy along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill

Stores and restaurants were boarded up with wood and corrugated metal in the city's central area, and about 830,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders on the South Carolina coast.

More than 400 people were in state-operated shelters statewide, and more were expected.

A man's facial hair blows in the wind as he takes a selfie along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
A man's facial hair blows in the wind as he takes a selfie along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill

Mark Russell, a homeless US Army veteran, said he had been in a shelter since Monday awaiting slow-moving Dorian.

"Once the rain comes and the wind hits, it's going to blow left, right, in and out, and there's not really a place that you can find" to avoid it, said Mr Russell, 63.

In North Carolina, where authorities said an 85-year-old man died after falling from a ladder while getting ready for the storm, governor Roy Cooper warned about the threat of storm surge and flash flooding from heavy rains.

The Outer Banks were particularly vulnerable.

Florida Department of Transportation members work on the A1A closed coastal route of Vilano Beach due to debris and flooding from Hurricane Dorian, in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
Florida Department of Transportation members work on the A1A closed coastal route of Vilano Beach due to debris and flooding from Hurricane Dorian, in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona

Georgia's coastal islands were also at risk, the state's governor Brian Kemp said on Wednesday.

"We are very worried, especially about the barrier islands getting cut off if we have these storm surges at the same time as ... the high tides," Mr Kemp said.

The area around houses is seen flooded due to Hurricane Dorian in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
The area around houses is seen flooded due to Hurricane Dorian in St. Augustine, Florida, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona

On Tybee Island, Georgia, just outside of Savannah, Debbie and Tony Pagan stacked beds and couches atop other furniture and blocked doors with sandbags and plastic sheeting before evacuating.

Their home flooded during Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017, and it is still relatively early in this year's hurricane season.

"It's a terrible way to live," Debbie Pagan said.

"We have the whole month of September and October to go. How would you like to be living on pins and needles?"

People walk along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill
People walk along the waterfront ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Randall Hill

Also on Tybee, David and Sandy Cason gathered construction materials they had bought but not yet used to rebuild after earlier storms.

Haggling with insurance adjusters delayed those repairs, they said.

"The uncertainty and the unknown are the worst part," Sandy Cason said.

Sightseers watch waves crash against the pier in Flagler Beach, Fla., as Hurricane Dorian made its way off the coast Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Sightseers watch waves crash against the pier in Flagler Beach, Fla., as Hurricane Dorian made its way off the coast Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jen Fabrick, left, and Anne Herring, right, walk through flood waters covering St. Mary's Street at Langs Marina near their homes while Hurricane Dorian passes by on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in St. Mary's, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Jen Fabrick, left, and Anne Herring, right, walk through flood waters covering St. Mary's Street at Langs Marina near their homes while Hurricane Dorian passes by on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in St. Mary's, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

"Just not knowing what's going to be here when you get back."

Weaker but bigger since it slammed the Bahamas with 185mph winds earlier this week, Dorian was moving along Florida's northeastern coast at 9mph on Wednesday afternoon.

Forecasters said it had maximum sustained winds of 105mph and was centred about 180 miles south of Charleston.

A hurricane warning covered about 500 miles of coastline, and authorities warned about three million residents to get away before the water and wind rose with Dorian's approach.

The acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peter Gaynor, said 4,000 federal emergency personnel; 6,000 National Guard members; and 40,000 utility workers were on standby for the hurricane.

"We are ready to go," Mr Gaynor said.

"We'll follow Dorian up the coast until it is not a threat to the US"

With the threat to Florida easing and the danger shifting northward, Orlando, Florida's international airport reopened, as did Walt Disney World and Universal.

Dorian forced Disney Cruise Line to cancel one trip and delay the return of another ship to Port Canaveral, Florida.

The Navy ordered ships at its huge base in Norfolk, Virginia, to head out to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, were being moved inland to Ohio.

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