Georgia orders evacuations as powerful Hurricane Dorian slams Bahamas

ATLANTA — Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas Sunday as a devastating Category 5 storm with sustained winds of185 mph and gusts up to 220.

The storm made landfall in Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands at 12:40 p.m. Sunday and then made a second landfall near Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island at 2 p.m. after authorities made last-minute pleas for those in low-lying areas to evacuate.

Dorian tied the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to come ashore. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph winds. That storm did not make landfall at that strength.

The storm is the strongest to hit the Bahamas since 1935, according to Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Katie Walls

The storm was forecast to make a northward turn at some point in the next 24 hours, setting its sights on the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coastlines. It's too early to tell exactly where Dorian will strike, but all three states were preparing for impacts.


As of 11 p.m. Sunday night, hurricane watches have been extended to the Florida/Georgia line though no watches are in effect in Georgia just yet.

Earlier Sunday night, Channel 2 Action News learned that Gov. Brian Kemp plans to issue a mandatory evacuation order of six coastal Georgia counties and contraflow on I-16 starting Monday.

South Carolina Gov. McMaster has also issued mandatory evacuation orders for all coastal regions including Charleston.

Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have all declared states of emergency ahead of the storms.

Walls said no matter how close Dorian comes to the southeast coast, Georgia will still feel the impacts:


Channel 2's Richard Elliot spoke to the country's consul general's office in Atlanta as they waited to hear news from the storm and word on their own families.

Workers spent the day listening to internet radio reports and hoping to hear family members were OK

Elliot talked to Consul General Astra Armbrister-Rolle, whose family is in New Providence, about 100 miles south of Dorian's eye.

"My family so far is safe and secure," Armbrister-Rolle said.

For Vice Consul Charlene Johnson, it's a different story. Johnson's brother and nephew are on Abaco, right in the storm's path.

"I have not had word from the family members in Grand Bahama, and the last word I had from my brother in Abaco is that his roof had just blown off and the house was starting to flood," Johnson said.

She's hopeful that her family is fine.

"We're hoping within a few hours we hear something, just to let us know they are safe and sound," Johnson said.

Armbrister-Rolle said her islands are used to hurricanes but Dorian is something else entirely.

"This is a completely different ballgame, absolutely. The most devastating storm to hit our country in history," Armbrister-Rolle said.

She's working with the consulate in Miami to direct donations of goods, supplies and money.


Channel 2's Tony Thomas was in Jekyll Island, where residents are now faced with evacuating.

Thomas spoke to Keona Davis, who lives with her kids in nearby Brunswick in the flood zone. Even if Dorian stays miles offshore and brushes the Georgia coast, she's scared it could push water into her apartment.

"If we do get a 2- to 4-foot surge, I don't know what I will do," Davis said.

Forecasters believe waves could reach 10 feet by Tuesday as tropical storm-force winds from Dorian arrive. On Sunday, people were still jumping in the water even despite the risk for rip currents.

"I'm used to it seeming like a hurricane is going to come right at us and then ducking out," Jarrett Cain said. "I'm not worried about that aspect."

Authorities are warning residents to stay alert and be ready to move if need be.

"I'm just hoping for the best, praying for the best because I don't want to evacuate with four kids," Davis said earlier Sunday.

Channel 2's Audrey Washington was at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, where people from Florida were planning to ride out the storm at the campgrounds.

"We didn't want to take a chance, and we had this big RV and decided to use it," evacuee John Hannon said.

Hannon expects some major damage in Florida, so he boarded up his Jupiter home.

"The wind is so high now, the house could be gone," Hannon said.

John and Nancy Deal drove in from Savannah and say they are ready for whatever Mother Nature brings.

"We put the shutters up and tied everything down that needed to be," Nancy Deal said.

Officials with the Atlanta Motor Speedway said the campgrounds are open as long as they are needed.

"Anybody can come set up a tent, a pop-up, RV, whatever, and it's free of charge," Tyler Head said.

Hannon said some of his neighbors are still on the way.

"We just talked to a few people who were going to wait it out and now they are leaving," Hannon said. "So they're talking it super seriously."

[DOWNLOAD: WSB-TV's Weather App for alerts on the powerful storm]

Watches and Warnings

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:

  • North of Deerfield Beach to the Volusia/Brevard County Line

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Northwestern Bahamas excluding Andros Island
  • In Florida from the Volusia/Brevard county line to Jupiter Inlet.
  • Mandatory evacuations are in place for parts of Nassau County

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Andros Island
  • Flagler Beach to the Volusia Brevard/Brevard County line

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • North of Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • North of Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach:
  • Lake Okeechobee

A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force
winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within 36 hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

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