Hurricane Dorian grew in size and picked up speed on Tuesday and forecasters said it would come “dangerously close” to Florida’s east coast in the next 36 hours after cutting a destructive path through the northern Bahamas that killed at least five people.
Dorian, which over the weekend had been one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, inundated homes with floodwater in the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas ahead of its expected advance on the U.S. East Coast, where more than a million people had been ordered evacuated.
The exact toll of the devastation in the Bahamas will not be clear until the storm completely passes and rescue crews can get on the ground. Dorian lashed the islands, including Grand Bahama Island, for almost 24 hours.
As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.
Abaco may require food for 14,500 people and Grand Bahama for 45,700 people.
The U.S. military has been authorized to provide logistics, health and engineering support to the Bahamas for up for 14 days if needed, General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command
Nine counties in Florida have issued mandatory evacuation orders. They included parts of Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, one of Florida’s two biggest cities, and some areas in Palm Beach County, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
After days of warnings to flee a storm that at its peak was rated at the top of the scale of hurricane strength, many residents of Florida’s coast remained unsure whether to wait it out or evacuate.
Orlando International Airport ceased commercial operations because of the storm, it said in a statement.
Walt Disney World Resort (DIS.N) in Orlando will close early on Tuesday.
The governors of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have ordered evacuations of some coastal counties.
Dorian was tied with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, based on maximum sustained winds. Allen in 1980 was the most powerful, with 190-mile (306-kph) winds.