Hurricane Isaias track: warning issued for Florida; The Carolinas brace for a rapid storm


NEW YORK (WABC) – Hurricane Isaias ripped shingles from rooftops and blown trees as it made its way through the Bahamas early Saturday and headed for the Florida coast, where officials in Miami said they were closing beaches, marinas and parks. Miami Mayor Carlos Giménez said on Friday 20 evacuation centers were on hold and could be put in place with COVID-19 security measures.“We still don’t think there’s a need to open shelters for this storm, but they’re ready,” he said. In anticipation of the storm, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, declared a state of emergency to issue transport waivers to allow trucks and supplies to move where help is needed. The state’s emergency operations center – already activated for COVID-19 – has also activated for the storm, and national and local response teams are ready.

“While the path and arrival of the hurricane may still change, now is the time for North Carolinians to prepare,” said Governor Cooper. “Hurricane preparations will be different given the COVID-19 pandemic, and families should keep this in mind as they prepare. ”

Authorities in North Carolina have ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was criticized by Hurricane Dorian last year on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas have evacuated people to Abaco Island, who are living in temporary structures from Dorian. People living in the eastern end of Grand Bahama were also displaced.

Isaias experienced maximum sustained winds of 135 km / h on Saturday morning and strengthening was possible later on Saturday, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The storm was centered about 85 kilometers south of Nassau in the Bahamas and was moving northwest at 19 km / h. Forecasters said some decrease in its forward movement was expected.

Meteorologist Amy Freeze said Isaias could bring destructive flooding and winds to the New York and tri-state area from Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Paula Miller, Mercy Corps director for the Bahamas, told The Associated Press that while the islands can normally withstand severe hurricanes, some have been destabilized by the coronavirus pandemic and the damage caused by Dorian.

“With everything not quite substantiated, the property unsecured, the house unprepared, even a Category 1 will be enough to push them back,” she said.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the east coast of Florida from Boca Raton, just north of Miami, about 241 kilometers north of the Volusia-Flagler County line. A hurricane watch was in effect for Hallendale Beach south of Boca Raton.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state was “perfectly prepared for this storm and any future storm during this hurricane season,” with stocks of personal protective equipment, generators, water in bottle and meals ready for distribution.

But he urged people to have seven days of food, water and medicine and said state-run coronavirus testing sites in areas where the storm could strike will be closed.

“Our sites, because they are outside with tents, if there were to be winds of 40 to 50 miles per hour, they would just collapse,” he said. “Security is essential for this. ”

The mayor of Miami said the social distancing measures sparked by COVID-19 meant that each person in the shelters had to have 3.7 square meters (40 square feet) and that no cafeteria-style catering would be allowed. People infected with the new coronavirus and who need to evacuate will be isolated in classrooms that separate them from the general population, Giménez said.

In Daytona Beach and Polk County, authorities distributed sandbags and other officials advised people to have enough emergency supplies at home for three to seven days.

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A hurricane warning was in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, but was no longer in effect for the central Bahamas.

“Keep crouching,” said Trevor Basden, director of the Bahamian Meteorology Department.

Two of those islands, Abaco and Grand Bahama, were battered by Dorian, a Category 5 storm that hovered over the region for two days and killed at least 70 people, with more than 280 missing. People still live in tents on both islands, and officials said crews attempted to clear the remaining debris before Isaias.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis relaxed a coronavirus lockdown in the wake of the storm, but imposed a 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. curfew. He said supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be open as long as time permitted.

The Bahamas has reported more than 570 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 14 deaths. It recently banned travelers from the United States after an increase in the number of cases after it reopened to international tourism.

When it was still a tropical storm on Thursday, Isaias knocked over trees, destroyed crops and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where hundreds of thousands of people were left without electricity or water.

Authorities reported that a man died in the Dominican Republic after being electrocuted by a fallen power cable. More than 5,000 people were evacuated and more than 130 communities remained cut off by the flood waters.

In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from the floodwaters that took a woman who was still missing.

Isaias is expected to drop 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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