Narrowing the speed of a Category Three storm, Hurricane Dorian is still raging around, just away from the Florida coast. The radar shows it in livid green colors, and while the officials are on alert, it seems that Dorian will avoid the Sunshine State. At least the worst parts of it.
Florida was not in the cone of concern of the deadly Category Two storm that was raging out at sea. Thankfully, the storm stayed far away, with only the edges of winds reaching the coast and causing some issues. It’s a welcome outcome of the storm which caused serious infrastructural damage in the Bahamas, where the death toll keeps rising.
Peter Gaynor, federal emergency management agency administrator, held a press conference together with Governor Ron DeSantis. Gaynor said that the whole state was very fortunate to feel only the minimal impact of the storm. Not to say that the minimal impact is completely neglectable — erosion transformed sunny beaches into a litter basket for sea turtle eggs and seaweed. The storm flooded cars and tore branches away from trees. Hurricane Dorian has slowly turned north, but that still doesn’t mean Florida will have to face a tougher problem. The Category Two storm is expected to lower in intensity.
Florida’s northeast coast had suffered the most damage by Wednesday morning. The officials expected the coast spreading from Sebastian Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach to feel the effects of a hurricane which has already made its unwelcome visit to the northeast. Over there, locals had to fight with flooded streets and homes, with water reaching higher stories in buildings. Experts believe the level of flooding could get higher in vulnerable places, such as St. Augustine and Jacksonville.
Danger Not Yet Over
Gaynor said that the storm was far from gone and claimed that local authorities were prepared for “any and every” scenario. Director of Operations Ashley Davis confirmed Gaynor’s comments. He also added that Florida was prepared to send their resources over to northern states, which might fall victim to more vicious hurricane conditions. However, until it became completely clear that Florida was safe, Davis added, responders should remain ready for worst-case scenarios. He expressed his frustration with Dorian, claiming that no other hurricane kept him so much on edge.
On Wednesday around 5 a.m., Dorian was closest to Central Florida coast, when it finally started moving again. It was about 90 miles away from Daytona Beach, with 105-mph winds. At the time, it started heading north northwest. Despite the hurricane dropping down from its peak power, the problem was that the wind field grew in size. As a result, Florida had to prepare itself for high winds and the storm reaching further inland. Winds with the force of a hurricane were going up to 60 miles from the system’s center, whereas tropical-storm-force winds departed from the core by up to 175 miles.
Meteorologists expected the hurricane to leave Florida on Wednesday afternoon, when Dorian was thought to visit Georgia, South and North Carolina. They believed the storm would continue to cause trouble along South Atlantic U.S., eventually withering out in the colder north.
NHC: Coast Is Clear
The National Hurricane Center regularly released updates on Tuesday, informing people that Florida was not directly in danger of the hurricane, with coastal residents finally being able to relax. One resident of Port Salerno, Chris Andrews, said to the press that everyone felt incredibly lucky to avoid Dorian. A couple of days prior, forecasts claimed that Port Salerno, together with the whole Martin County, would be the next location for the massive storm which was destroying the Bahamas at the time. Andrews said that the people were relentlessly watching what was going on in the Bahamas and the Abacos, fearing that could happen to them.
Damage to the Bahamas
On the Abacos and the Bahamas, people faced the strongest storm in the islands’ history. The storm lasted for 48 hours. Entire communities in the Abacos dealt with 185mph winds, which flattened houses, with the storm reaching 20 feet in height. People in the Bahamas had to find cover on second and third stories, even attics and roofs. Shelters and lower stories were all underwater, while the winds tore roofs off. There are a lot of videos you can find on social media of families traversing muddied water which was waist-high. In the videos, you can see parents holding pets and children above the flood.
When it reached Grand Bahama, Dorian lost some of its intensity, with the storm dropping to 145 mph. Still, it spent several hours over the island, causing chaos with waves and winds. It brought more than 5 feet of water to the airport.
The storm (which reached a two-story height) and the winds have claimed at least seven lives in the Bahamas. This toll is, unfortunately, expected to rise as rescuers and relief workers start repairing the damage that was left behind. Bahamian press in Abaco released photos of officials allegedly loading in body bags on a truck.
The U.S. Coast Guard has offered its services to help relieve the workload and bring people to safety. They have already taken 19 people away from a medical clinic in the Abacos and brought them to Nassau with a helicopter. South Florida’s local governments and nonprofits have already started collecting funds and sending relief planes.
New Storms Forming
On Tuesday morning, Linda Mackey, Bahamas consul general, said that they were in need of urgent help. Tuesday was also the day meteorologists spotted another tropical depression forming in the eastern Atlantic. This, according to the experts, will not turn into a hurricane until the end of this week. Dorian, together with Tropical Storm Fernand near Mexico and this new depression, is a painful reminder that we’re entering a period of the year when hurricanes are the most active. The hurricane season begins early September and lasts until November 30.
However, outside Dorian, none of these systems are threatening to the United States. At least not for now. Tuesday afternoon saw many roads towards the beach become flooded near Lantana, Florida. The police blocked off A1A, which several feet of water covered. On some photos, boats were parked near semi-sunk cars.
In Lantana’s Sportsman’s Marina, several people had to walk their way through Intracoastal water. The Marina is home to the Lady K, a 70-foot vessel which the authorities relocated to the Florida Keys. Gloria Teske and Gaelle Cardenas, eight years old, held a homemade sign that was in a branch, which read, “I survived Dorian. Let’s celebrate.”
Megan Call, 20, and Joseph Baize, 3, were close to Cardenas. Luann Call, Megan’s mother, claimed that she wasn’t surprised at all by the water level. She found fault in the King Tide and the climate change.
In Boynton Beach, Dean Hillman was checking out if his friend’s boat was in order. He revealed friends of his lost their Bahamas home, adding that Floridians had it easy compared to others.
Continuing on over to southern coastal places, we reach Boca Raton, where the winds caused some damage to condos. However, people didn’t suffer from any major injuries. The storm didn’t stop Chris Bal, 31, a surfer from Fort Lauderdale, who came out to try and tame the water beast. Alice Pearce, a lifeguard, was present at the beach when she revealed to the press that she considered leaving Florida as she did two years ago. Back then, while hurricane Irma was raging, Pearce went to North Carolina. However, she said, there was no point in doing that this year. She recalled what a hellish drive that was.