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Hurricane Isaias Heads Toward Florida After Hitting Puerto Rico, Bahamas

Hurricane Isaias Heads Toward Florida After Hitting Puerto Rico, Bahamas
August 01
14:43 2020

Hurricane Isaias struck the Bahamas Friday as it marched northwest on a path forecast to skirt Florida’s eastern coast before aiming for the Carolinas.

The Category 1 storm, whose center was about 195 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas Friday afternoon, contained 75-mile-an-hour winds, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was expected to produce as much as 3 to 5 feet of storm surge and 4 to 8 inches of rain in the Bahamas, forecasters said.

Southern and central Florida could begin feeling the effects of the storm Saturday, with forecasters predicting 2 to 4 inches of rain and potentially life-threatening flooding. A hurricane warning was in effect from Boca Raton, Fla., in the south to Volusia and Brevard counties in the central part of the state.

Residents of affected areas face “a very dangerous situation,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, in a briefing Friday morning. He said the storm was forecast to strengthen in the coming days.

The hurricane comes as Florida grapples with soaring coronavirus case numbers. Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Friday morning that the state’s Division of Emergency Management has been planning for hurricane season for months while also contending with the pandemic. The department created a reserve of personal protective equipment, including 20 million masks and 10 million gowns, for the storm season.

Mr. DeSantis said he didn’t anticipate a need for hurricane shelters, but the state was prepared with new guidelines in light of the virus and shelter kits of masks and gloves that could be deployed. Coronavirus testing sites run by the state were being shut down in the eastern part of Florida, he said.

“There will be impacts to Florida,” Mr. DeSantis said. “We’ve just got to be vigilant.”

In the Bahamas, officials activated shelters and placed search-and-rescue teams on standby, said Capt. Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency, at a news briefing Thursday night. He encouraged residents of low-lying coastal areas in the path of the storm to move to the interior of islands.

The Bahamas is still recovering from Hurricane Dorian last year, a devastating Category 5 storm that ravaged the Abaco Islands and other parts of the archipelago. The country is also contending with coronavirus outbreaks.

Earlier on its trajectory, Isaias cut across Hispaniola, drenching Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The nearby U.S. territory of Puerto Rico experienced flooding, landslides and power outages. As of Friday afternoon, about 8% of customers of Puerto Rico’s electric utility lacked power.


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