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Sunday September 22nd, 2019 8:49PM

The Latest: Shutdowns in Virginia as Dorian approaches

By The Associated Press
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OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Dorian (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

Much of southeastern Virginia is shutting down as Hurricane Dorian churns up the Atlantic Coast.

Virginia Beach officials announced mandatory evacuations Thursday for the community of Sandbridge. The strip of land is home to beach houses that sit along the Atlantic Coast near the North Carolina border.

Voluntary evacuations were also encouraged in flood-prone areas in the coastal city of nearly 500,000 people.

The low-lying region is prone to flooding without much rain. Dorian is expected to bring heavy rains and 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1 meter) of storm surge Friday.

Schools and universities canceled Friday classes throughout much of the region. Buses, light rail and ferries will stop running.

Military bases will operate with only mission-essential personnel.

Dorian is currently moving up the East Coast as a Category 2 hurricane.

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3:35 p.m.

In Grand Bahama, crews were working to reopen the airport and used heavy equipment to pick up fallen branches and palm tree fronds after Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas.

On Grand Bahama island Thursday, lines formed outside gas stations and grocery stores. At a nearby supermarket, 67-year-old wood carver Gordon Higgs said he would appreciate any help from the international community.

The hurricane has killed at least 20 people in the Bahamas.

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3 p.m.

A third death in Florida is being blamed on Hurricane Dorian .

Brevard County Medical Examiner's Office manager Craig Engleson says that on Sunday, a 68-year-old man fell to his death while putting up plywood hurricane shutters.

At least four storm-related deaths have been reported on the U.S. mainland, three in Florida and one in North Carolina. All have involved men who were trimming trees or otherwise getting ready for the storm.

Dorian is currently moving up the East Coast as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

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2:25 p.m.

A North Carolina sheriff's office is reporting roofs blown off as Hurricane Dorian spins up tornadoes on its way up the coast of the Carolinas.

The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office posted photos of several houses with roofs torn off in a community known as The Farm, not far from the state line with South Carolina. Debris was also strewn through grassy areas.

Elsewhere, the sheriff's office showed images of winds that had overturned RVs and at least one boat parked on land.

The sheriff's office said there were no injuries reported.

Dorian is currently moving up the East Coast as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

___

2:25 p.m.

Officials in a coastal South Carolina county have suspended emergency services during high winds from Hurricane Dorian .

Georgetown County officials said in tweet Thursday afternoon that fire and EMS services had been called off "until wind speeds subside to a safe level."

Officials also noted that anyone who called 911 during the suspension would be put on a waiting list.

County officials also said Georgetown sheriff's deputies had been pulled back from areas south of Highway 521 due to the high winds.

Dorian is currently moving up the East Coast as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

___

2:25 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian's center is churning just offshore of South Carolina's Cape Romain as it pummels the Carolinas with high winds and rain.

The storm is centered Thursday afternoon about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Myrtle Beach and is moving north-northeast near 8 mph (13 kph).

Dorian's maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph (175 kph), making it a Category 2 hurricane. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian is expected to slowly weaken over the next few days but will remain a powerful storm as its center moves near the coasts of North and South Carolina.

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2:25 p.m.

Part of the roof of a South Carolina church has blown off in the torrential winds and rain of Hurricane Dorian .

A section of about 25 feet (7.6 meters) of green corrugated metal roofing lay crumpled on the ground Thursday afternoon in front of Holy City Church on James Island, near Charleston.

Other portions of the roof flapped in the wind, peeling back to reveal wooden roofing slats underneath. The green and brown trunk of a large tree next to the church was also uprooted in the winds and rain.

Dorian is currently moving up the East Coast as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

___

2 p.m.

The U.N. World Food Program has purchased 8 tons (7.2 metric tons) of ready-to-eat meals for Bahamians in hurricane-battered Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands and is organizing an airlift from Panama to set up two logistics hubs in the Caribbean nation.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that WFP is also providing satellite equipment to ensure connectivity for emergency responders across the affected islands.

Given the severity of Hurricane Dorian's impact, he said WFP has set up a $5.4 million emergency operation for three months to assist 39,000 people.

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said Wednesday about 70,000 people "are in immediate need of life-saving assistance" on Grand Bahama and the Abacos.

Dorian devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

___

1:25 p.m.

Another death is being blamed on Hurricane Dorian , which is raking the Carolinas with wind and rain.

A Florida medical examiner says a 38 year-old landscaper was electrocuted Saturday while trimming trees in preparation for the storm's arrival.

The unidentified man worked for a landscaping company hired by a hotel in Naples, Florida. The Medical Examiner's Office in Collier County says the man was trimming trees that had grown into power lines.

Jailene Hernandez, a medical examiner's investigator, says a co-worker witnessed the man get electrocuted.

Dorian is currently moving up the East Coast as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

___

1:05 p.m.

No one will be able to enter one Outer Banks county in North Carolina as Hurricane Dorian approaches.

Officials say in a news release that there'll be no access to Dare County starting at 8 p.m. Thursday. In addition, curfews begin in most of the county at 8 p.m. and continue until at least noon Friday. No curfew is in effect in Kitty Hawk.

Dare County officials estimate that storm surge from ocean and sound side flooding is estimated at 4 to 7 feet (1 to 2 meters) above ground, not including wave action. The National Weather Service forecasts periods of rapid water rise from the sound side as the storm passes, possibly into Friday evening.

Dare County is under both a hurricane warning and a storm surge warning.

___

1:05 p.m.

The lights are quickly coming back on along the Georgia coast in areas where power lines snapped as Hurricane Dorian passed.

Georgia Power said fewer than 5,500 coastal homes and businesses were still without electricity Thursday afternoon. That's down from more than 12,000 customers in the dark at daybreak that the utility reported on its online outage map.

Emergency officials along the 100-mile (160-kilometer) Georgia coast were reporting light damage from Dorian. The storm raked Georgia with tropical storm force winds as its center passed offshore.

State officials had braced for worse. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered a mandatory evacuation affecting all six coastal Georgia counties. Kemp lifted the evacuation order Thursday morning.

___

1:05 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian's pounding of Florida's eastern seashore has eroded beaches and exposed clusters of sea turtle eggs.

But not to worry, says the Sea Turtle Preservation Society.

Beachgoers who come across turtle eggs shouldn't be too concerned by the exposed turtle eggs.

In fact, the group tells Florida Today that it's a "banner year" for turtle nests.

The group's chairman, Roger Pszonowsky, says there's not much to be done because it's all part of nature's cycle.

Pszonowsky also says there haven't been widespread reports of sargassum seaweed on beaches. That's a good sign because too much of the seaweed after a storm isn't good for baby turtles. The tiny turtles that manage to make it out to see sometimes get swept back onto beaches by clinging onto the seaweed.

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12:30 p.m.

Officials with the City of Charleston say nearly 150 trees have been toppled as the area gets pummeled by Hurricane Dorian's winds and rain.

The South Carolina city also says 108 roads are closed in Charleston, 26 due to flooding, and some 36 power lines have been knocked down. One live wire on a flooded street outside the Charleston City Market was sparking, causing explosions that could be heard blocks away.

Parts of the historic port city often flood with a normal high tide, so officials were expecting high water with the storm.

Forecasters said up to 15 inches of rain could fall in the Charleston area, and up to 20 inches possible nearby.

___

11:25 a.m.

People are hunkering down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, preparing for what could be a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian.

Access is the main problem: Ocracoke Island is reachable only by ferries, and while Hatteras Island has a new two-lane bridge to the mainland, parts of the barrier islands can be cut off by storm damage. Those who decided to ride out the storm are planning for days of isolation.

North Carolina's transportation department said ferries shut down Wednesday after evacuating 1,441 people and 756 vehicles from Ocracoke. Leslie Lanier is expecting the island to "be in for a whole lot of mess."

Speaking by phone Thursday, Lanier said she boarded up her home and bookstore after visitors evacuated, and has moved the books up to five feet off the floor. Now she thinks that may not be enough to avoid flooding from a storm surge.

Liz Browning Fox is on Hatteras Island, which often bears the brunt of bad weather. She lives on a 30-foot hill in Buxton, where she worries that a powerful storm could cut new inlets through the island from Pamlico Sound out to the open ocean.

___

11:20 a.m.

A North Carolina beach town is reporting damage from a tornado that was spun off as Hurricane Dorian approaches.

Emerald Isle, North Carolina, said in a news release on its website that the waterspout touched down around 9 a.m. Thursday. More than a dozen campers were knocked on their side, their metal skin mangled and twisted. Some were flipped upside-down, with their tires now aimed toward the sky. A blue beach chair was left dangling, suspended in the wires that held up a power line. Other power lines were downed across a parking lot, where trash was strewn everywhere.

Other tornados spun off by Dorian's outer bands struck other areas along the coast.

By late morning, heavy rain was falling sideways, trees were bending and traffic lights were swaying as Emerald Isle hunkered down again. The city was ground zero in 1996's Hurricane Fran, which was the last major hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina. Emerald Isle also weathered Hurricane Florence in 2018 and a half-dozen other hurricanes in between.

___

11 a.m.

Dorian's maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly to 110 mph (175 kmh), making it once again a Category 2 hurricane.

That's still strong enough to cause damage along the coast of the Carolinas, where the storm is now close enough for hurricane-force winds to hit land.

Forecasters say Dorian's center at 11 a.m. EDT was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, still moving north off the coast at about 8 mph (13 kmh). Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

The National Hurricane Center says large and destructive waves up to 8 feet high could be seen in Myrtle Beach if peak surge happens during high tide.

___

10:45 a.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents that extensive damage is expected at the coast regardless of whether Hurricane Dorian makes landfall.

Cooper said Thursday morning at a news conference that the approaching storm "is serious and can be deadly." He urged people to "get to safety and stay there."

The governor already ordered a mandatory evacuation of the state's fragile barrier islands, although people can't be forced to leave their homes. More than 1,000 people already are in over 50 shelters.

He says the storm spawned an apparent tornado early Thursday in Brunswick County that caused some damage.

Cooper says forecasts show up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain and possibly more falling in coastal areas with sustained winds of 100 mph (161 kph). He anticipates hundreds of thousands of people will lose power with fallen trees.

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10:45 a.m.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has lifted evacuation orders along the Georgia coast, which was largely spared by Hurricane Dorian .

Kemp tweeted Thursday morning that residents can return to the state's six coastal counties after the storm passed near the shoreline overnight.

Many of the 530,000 people in coastal Georgia stayed to ride out Dorian. Glynn County spokesman Matthew Kent said all roads and bridges were open to St. Simons Island, home to about 12,000 people roughly 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Savannah.

Kent said a few hundred people on the island were without power and work crews were cleaning up fallen tree limbs. But none of it compared to the wind and flood damage inflicted by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017.

___

9:45 a.m.

In South Carolina, a North Myrtle Beach city spokesman says officials believe one or more suspected tornadoes from Hurricane Dorian damaged several residences and mobile homes in the city Thursday morning.

Spokesman Patrick Dowling tells The Associated Press no injuries were reported, but several residents were taken to shelters.

City officials in North Myrtle Beach say rain is combining with the rising ocean to exacerbate flooding. At least 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain had fallen by 9 a.m. and strong winds blowing onto the shore were preventing the tide from fully receding.

Dorian is currently moving up the East Coast as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

___

8:35 a.m.

More than 215,000 homes and businesses are without power as Hurricane Dorian lashes the southeastern coast with wind and rain.

More than 200,000 of the outages were being reported Thursday morning in the coastal counties of South Carolina. But lights are also out in southeastern Georgia.

Outages will likely spread up the East Coast as Dorian moves north. Duke Energy projects Dorian will knock out electrical service to about 700,000 customers in the Carolinas.

Forecasters say Dorian is a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph (185 kph).

The storm devastated the Bahamas as it moved over the islands earlier this week, causing at least 20 deaths.

___

8:35 a.m.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says crews are ready to respond to any hazardous travel conditions that might develop from Hurricane Dorian.

The department said in a news release that high winds, heavy rain and coastal and tidal flooding are forecast to affect the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula on Thursday and Friday. VDOT says it has staged staff, equipment and materials in those areas.

Crews also performed drainage clearing in low-lying areas to help keep water flowing off the roadway.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency ahead of Dorian's approach, allowing the commonwealth to mobilize extra resources, people and equipment.

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8:35 a.m.

The mayor of Tybee Island, Georgia, says Hurricane Dorian inflicted little damage on the small beach community.

Jason Buelterman (BEL-tuhr-man) said Thursday morning the storm spared the island's 3,000 residents from flooding as it passed near the Georgia coast overnight. He says the high tide a 1 a.m. was about 3 feet (1 meter) lower than forecasters had anticipated.

The lone highway linking the island to Savannah on the mainland remained open throughout the night.

Many Tybee Island residents sandbagged their low-lying and evacuated inland ahead of Dorian after suffering damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma the following year. Hundreds of homes on the island flooded during Irma.

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8:05 a.m.

Hurricane Dorian is swirling off the South Carolina coast, kicking up surf and sending howling winds through Charleston.

The storm's maximum sustained winds Thursday morning are near 115 mph (185 kph), making it a Category 3 hurricane.

Dorian is centered about 70 miles (115 kilometers) south-southeast of Charleston and is moving north-northeast near 8 mph (13 kph). But after Friday, the storm's forecast track shows it picking up speed and quickly moving past New England over the weekend.

Earlier this week, Dorian left wide devastation and at least 20 dead in striking the northern Bahamas.

___

6 a.m.

Constant, howling winds from Dorian are blowing through downtown Charleston, South Carolina as the Category 3 hurricane blows off the coast of the Carolinas. Hurricane-force winds are remaining just offshore but tropical storm-force winds are whipping around and rattling the windows of a 14-floor hotel on the Ashley River.

The surf is kicked up and cascading into the US highway 17 bridge connecting the port city's historic downtown to a neighborhood west of the river.

The National Hurricane Center says the Category 3 storm is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south-southeast of Charleston, with top sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph) and tropical-storm force winds extending up to 195 miles (315 kilometers) outward.

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5:00 a.m.

Hurricane conditions are likely over portions of the Carolinas Thursday as Dorian gets closer to the South Carolina coast.

The National Hurricane Center says the Category 3 storm, is about 80 miles (128 kilometers) south southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph). It was moving north at 8 mph (13 kph) off the coast. It's expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and deadly winds.

Flash flood warnings are in effect for Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina until 10:15 a.m. EDT.

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4:30 a.m.

Duke Energy says it has resources from 23 states and Canada ready to respond to the hundreds of thousands of power outages expected from the dangerous and deadly Hurricane Dorian as it heads toward the Carolinas.

In a news release on its website, the North Carolina-based utility said Wednesday it expects the storm to cause 700,000 outages and has bought in line workers, tree crews, damage assessors and other crews. The workers are being funneled into temporary cities throughout North and South Carolina and will be ready to restore power outages "as soon as it's safe to do so."

The release says the Florence Civic Center, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was transformed overnight to house about 1,500 of these crews.

Customer Delivery Ops Manager Jonathan Evans says, "We want them to be as close to the impacted areas as we can but still be out of harm's way."

Dorian, again a Category 3 storm, is about 105 miles (168 kilometers) south southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph). It was moving north at 7 mph (11 kph) off the coast. It's expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and deadly winds.

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3:45 a.m.

The Charleston County Emergency Operations Center advises that all bridges are a Code Yellow due to 35 mph winds as Hurricane Dorian approaches. The Charleston Police Department tweeted the center's advisory early Thursday warning that high profile vehicles will be advised not to high span, 65 feet or higher, or exposed bridges and that the public should use extreme caution if they decide to travel over bridges.

High profile vehicles include box-type trucks, tractor trailers, motor homes and those pulling travel trailers, box-type trailers, large sail boats or other water craft.

Dorian, again a Category 3 storm, is about 105 miles (168 kilometers) south southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph). It was moving north at 7 mph (11 kph) off the coast. It's expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and deadly winds.

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3:00 a.m.

Hundreds of shelter animals from coastal South Carolina have arrived in Delaware ahead of Hurricane Dorian's expected landfall.

The News Journal of Wilmington reports the animals were moved from shelters at risk of flooding. The Category 3 storm began making its way across the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to flood low-lying areas and bring enough rain to cause flash flooding concerns well inland.

Nearly 200 animals were airlifted off the endangered coast and picked up by Brandywine Valley SPCA early Tuesday. About 150 other animals were expected to arrive that night via land transport from Best Friends Animal Society. The animals may be up for adoption throughout New England later this week.

Brandywine says the lessened South Carolina shelter populations will make space for local pets impacted by Dorian.

____

2:00 a.m.

Tens of thousands are without power as Hurricane Dorian is expected to bring damaging winds and life-threatening storm surges along a large portion of the southeast and mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. over the next several days.

The National Hurricane Center said early Thursday that rising water moving inland from the coastline is expected to last over the next 36 hours.

Dorian, again a Category 3 storm, is about 105 miles (168 kilometers) south southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 kph). It was moving north at 7 mph (11 kph) off the coast.

Over 16,800 in Charleston County and over 6,800 in Beaufort County are without power, according to Dominion Energy. Berkeley Electric Cooperative reports another 4,900 in Charleston County.

Dorian will continue to approach the coast of South Carolina Thursday morning with some fluctuations in intensity, followed by slow weakening through Saturday.

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11:30 p.m.

Hurricane Dorian, back to a Category 3 storm, has begun raking the Southeast U.S. seaboard, threatening to inundate low-lying coasts from Georgia to southwest Virginia with a dangerous storm surge after its deadly mauling of the Bahamas.

Dorian had crashed into the island nation as its strongest hurricane on record earlier this week, but has weakened greatly since — down from a Category 5 to a Category 2 storm before increasing again late Wednesday. Dorian still boasts dangerously high winds of 115 mph (185 kph) as it is sideswiping the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

In South Carolina, more than 1,500 people have sought refuge in 28 shelters as authorities worried about the historic and vulnerable port city of Charleston. Dorian was centered overnight about 105 miles (168 kilometers) south of Charleston and moving north, just offshore.

Earlier this week, Dorian left wide devastation and at least 20 dead in striking the northern Bahamas.

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