Wed | Aug 5, 2020

Hurricane Isaias lashes Bahamas while Florida battens down

Published:Saturday | August 1, 2020 | 10:17 AM
Residents wait in line to fill their containers with gasoline before the arrival of Hurricane Isaias in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Isaias snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday and headed toward the Florida coast, where officials said they were closing beaches, parks and coronavirus testing sites.

Florida authorities said they have prepared shelters, but didn’t expect to have to evacuate people.

“The most important thing we want people to do now is remain vigilant,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Authorities in North Carolina ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was slammed by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, starting Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas evacuated people on Abaco island who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people.

Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour Saturday morning and some strengthening was possible, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

The storm was centred about 50 miles south of Nassau in the Bahamas and was moving northwest at 12 miles per hour.

Forecasters said some decrease in its forward motion was expected.

Bahamian officials said they were concerned about a Category 1 storm hitting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The centre of COVID-19 now is in Grand Bahama,” the island’s minister, Senator Kwasi Thompson, told government-run ZNS Bahamas.

“No one wanted to see a situation where we are now facing a hurricane.”

A hurricane warning was in effect for Florida’s east coast from Boca Raton, just north of Miami, about 150 miles north to the Volusia-Flagler county line.

A hurricane watch was in effect from Hallendale Beach to south of Boca Raton.

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