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‘SEEK ELEVATED SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!’ Warning issued as Hurricane Dorian slams Bahamas

The National Hurricane Center’s 11:02 a.m. Tweet did not mince words in discussing the Bahamas’ near future.
A man stands on a store's roof as he works to prepare it for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Hurricane Dorian intensified yet again Sunday as it closed in on the northern Bahamas, threatening to batter islands with Category 5-strength winds, pounding waves and torrential rain. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A man stands on a store's roof as he works to prepare it for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Hurricane Dorian intensified yet again Sunday as it closed in on the northern Bahamas, threatening to batter islands with Category 5-strength winds, pounding waves and torrential rain. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) [ RAMON ESPINOSA | AP ]
Published Sep. 1, 2019

A number of hurricanes have come and gone since the Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina was built in the Bahamas’ Marsh Harbour in 1955.

But nothing like Hurricane Dorian, whose outer bands began whipping at the Abaco Island Sunday morning.

Dorian’s sustained winds were up to 180 mph as of the National Weather Service’s 11 a.m. advisory, making it “the strongest storm to impact the Northwest Bahamas” according to the National Weather Service.

And Dorian didn’t appear to be a hit-it-and-quit-it storm, but rather had slowed ominously to 7 mph.

The National Hurricane Center’s 11:02 a.m. Tweet did not mince words in discussing the Abaco’s near future:

“SEEK ELEVATED SHELTER IMMEDIATELY! Take action now to protect your life!

The National Hurricane Center’s summary of key messages in the 11 a.m. Dorian advisory didn’t use the Caps Lock key, but was just as blunt.

“A prolonged period of catastrophic winds and storm surge will affect the Abaco Islands today,” the NHC said. “Everyone there should take immediate shelter and not venture into the eye. These catastrophic conditions are likely on Grand Bahama Island later today or tonight and efforts to protect life and property there should be rushed to completion.”

While residents in Freeport on Grand Bahama were reporting the sun was still out in the Abacos residents were getting slammed as Hurricane Dorian barreled toward the islands as a category 5.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis had appealed to residents on Guana Cay for the cays to be evacuated but most locals had refused, deciding to ride out the storm in place.

The Nassau Guardian quoted local resident Troy Albury, who said eight people left aboard a free ferry on Saturday while about 150 decided to remain on the cay. He and his wife Maria were among those who decided to stay.

“Our house is built solid. It’s more than 15 feet above sea level. My house isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “We’ve been through four storms.”

Albury said only eight people had sought shelter in the local school.

Reubens Joseph, 32, in Abaco, Bahamas, said Dorian appeared around 2 a.m. He was holed up in a home on the island and did not have time to make it to as shelter.

“A lot of wind, a lot of rain,” said Joseph, contemplating how long he could remain inside and wondering whether he should take his chances and try to go to a more secure location.

At the Abaco Beach Resort, General Manager Rick Lohr said around 10:30 a.m. “The water’s covered over the beach. We’re getting the gusts. But the whistling and the humming you hear [during a hurricane] we haven’t gotten that yet. But the winds have picked up a lot.”

Lohr said 40 guests were in their rooms and another 40 resort workers would ride out the storm there, ready to begin cleanup as soon as Dorian passes.

“I don’t expect that to be today,” Lohr said. “But, everybody’s safe.”

This story was written by Miami Herald staff writers Jacqueline Charles and David J. Neal.

2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

What Michael taught the Panhandle and Tampa Bay

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind

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