Hurricane Dorian strengthens back to a Category 3 hurricane as it batters the Southeast U.S. seaboard

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Update:

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Dorian is lashing the Carolinas with strong winds and rain as it churns in the Atlantic Ocean Thursday morning.

Hurricane conditions will likely occur over portions of the area on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane was upgraded to a Category 3 storm late Wednesday night, and is forecast to pick up strength shortly after sunrise Thursday.

Dorian will likely bring damaging winds and life-threatening storm surges along a large swath of the southeast and mid-Atlantic coasts over the next couple of days, according to the NHC.

As of 5 a.m. Thursday, Dorian was about 80 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. It’s moving north at about 8 mph.

Dorian bore down on the Bahamas for 48 hours. Twenty people were confirmed to have died. Approximately 13,000 homes were destroyed in one group of islands in the Bahamas alone.

WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN PLACE:

HURRICANE WARNING:

Savannah River to the North Carolina/Virginia border
Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

TROPICAL STORM WARNING:

North Carolina/Virginia border to Chincoteague VA
Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point southward

TROPICAL STORM WATCH:

North of Chincoteague VA to Fenwick Island DE
Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point to Drum Point
Tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island
Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach MA
Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard MA

STORM SURGE WARNING:

Savannah River to Poquoson VA
Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds
Neuse and Pamlico Rivers
Hampton Roads

Update:

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Dorian strengthens back to a Category 3 hurricane as it batters the Southeast U.S. seaboard.

Original story Hurricane death toll climbs to 20 in devastated Bahamas:

FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) — The ground crunched under Greg Alem’s feet on Wednesday as he walked over the ruins of his home, laid waste by Hurricane Dorian. He touched a splintered beam of wood and pointed to the fallen trees, overcome by memories.

“We planted those trees ourselves. Everything has a memory, you know,” he said. “It’s so, so sad. … In the Bible there is a person called Job, and I feel like Job right now. He’s lost everything, but his faith kept him strong.”

The devastation wrought by Dorian — and the terror it inflicted during its day-and-a-half mauling of the Bahamas — came into focus Wednesday as the passing of the storm revealed a muddy, debris-strewn landscape of smashed and flooded-out homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands. The official death toll from the strongest hurricane on record ever to hit the country jumped to 20, and there was little doubt it would climb higher.

With a now-distant Dorian pushing its way up the Southeastern U.S. coast, menacing Georgia and the Carolinas, many people living in the Bahamas were in shock as they slowly came out of shelters and checked on their homes.

In one community, George Bolter stood in the bright sunshine and surveyed the ruins of what was once his home. He picked at the debris, trying to find something, anything, salvageable. A couple of walls were the only thing left.

“I have lost everything,” he said. “I have lost all my baby’s clothes, my son’s clothes. We have nowhere to stay, nowhere to live. Everything is gone.”

The Bahamian government sent hundreds of police officers and marines into the stricken islands, along with doctors, nurses and other health care workers, in an effort to reach drenched and stunned victims and take the full measure of the disaster.

“There are many in Grand Bahama who are suffering,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a news conference. “We know there are many Bahamians that are in need of help. I want to assure you that more help is on the way.”

He thanked the international community for its response, especially the U.S. government for what he called their “exceptional assistance.”

The U.S. Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and relief organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross joined the burgeoning effort to rush food and medicine to survivors and lift the most desperate people to safety by helicopter. The U.S. government also dispatched urban search-and-rescue teams.

Londa Sawyer stepped off a helicopter in Nassau, the capital, with her two children and two dogs after being rescued from Marsh Harbor in the Abaco islands.

“I’m just thankful I’m alive,” she said. “The Lord saved me.”

Sawyer said that her home was completely flooded and that she and her family fled to a friend’s home, where the water came up to the second floor and carried them up to within a few feet of the roof. She said she and her children and the dogs were floating on a mattress for about half an hour until the water began receding.

Sandra Cooke, who lives in Nassau, said her sister-in-law was trapped under her roof for 17 hours in the Abaco islands and wrapped herself in a shower curtain as she waited.

“The dog laid on top of her to keep her warm until the neighbors could come to help,” she said. “All of my family lives in Marsh Harbor, and everybody lost everything. Not one of them have a home to live anymore.”

The storm pounded the Bahamas with Category 5 winds up to 185 mph (295 kph) and torrential rains, swamping neighborhoods in brown floodwaters and destroying or severely damaging, by one estimate, nearly half the homes in Abaco and Grand Bahama, which have 70,000 residents and are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts.

Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands said 17 of the dead were from the Abaco islands and three from Grand Bahama. He said he could not release further details because the government still had to contact family members.

Some people in the Abaco islands complained that they had not seen any aid except for medical supplies for the main hospital, where hundreds of people were temporarily living as they awaited help.

By late Wednesday, Dorian was pushing northward off the Florida coastline with reduced but still-dangerous 110 mph (175 kph) winds. An estimated 3 million people in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina were warned to clear out, and highways leading inland were turned into one-way evacuation routes.

At 10 p.m. EDT, Dorian was centered about 130 miles (210 kilometers) south of Charleston, South Carolina, moving north at 8 mph (15 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended up to 70 miles (110 kilometers) from its center.

Dorian was expected to pass dangerously close to Georgia and scrape the Carolinas on Thursday and Friday with the potential for over a foot of rain in some spots and life-threatening storm surge.

“Hurricane Dorian has its sights set on North Carolina,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “We will be ready.”

As the threat to Florida eased and the danger shifted farther up the coast, Orlando’s airport reopened, along with Walt Disney World and Universal. To the north, ships at the big Norfolk, Virginia, naval base were ordered to head out to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia were sent inland.

The U.S. mainland recorded its first death in connection with the hurricane, that of an 85-year-old man in North Carolina who fell off a ladder while preparing his home for the storm. Dorian was also blamed for one death in Puerto Rico.

On Tybee Island, Georgia, Debbie and Tony Pagan stacked their beds and couches atop other furniture and covered their doors with plastic wrap and sandbags before evacuating. Their home flooded during both Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017.

“It’s a terrible way to live,” Debbie Pagan said. “We have the whole month of September and October to go. How would you like to be living on pins and needles?”

Another Tybee islander, Sandy Cason, said: “The uncertainty and the unknown are the worst part. Just not knowing what’s going to be here when you get back.”

Along King Street in historic Charleston, South Carolina, dozens of shops and restaurants typically bustling with tourists were boarded up, plywood and corrugated metal over windows and doors, as the flood-prone downtown area braced for high water.

Mark Russell, an Army veteran who has lived in South Carolina much of his life, went to a hurricane shelter right away. As for those who hesitated to do so, he said: “If they go through it one time, maybe they’ll understand.”

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Weissenstein from Nassau, Bahamas. AP writers Tim Aylen in Freeport; Russ Bynum in Georgia; and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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