Hurricane Dorian remained the strongest storm ever to threaten Florida’s east coast Monday as it barreled toward the U.S. while battering the Bahamas.
Dramatic videos posted online show significant devastation in parts of the Bahamas. One video posted by Twitter user mvp242 showed a desperate mother on Great Abaco begging for prayers Sunday, after the “monster” Category 5 hurricane ripped off the roof of an apartment building that was surrounded by raging water.
“Please pray for us. Please pray for us. Everyone please pray for us. Me and my baby, everyone that stay in our apartment building, we stuck right here please pray for us,” she pleaded. “My baby is only four months old. Please pray for us. I’m begging y’all pray for us.”
It was unclear if the mother and the other residents in her apartment building were safely evacuated but The Bahamas Press reported that the first death from Hurricane Dorian was a 7-year-old boy, Lachino Mcintosh, who drowned after his family attempted to relocate from their home.
No other deaths have yet been confirmed but the publication reported that the boy’s sister is also missing.
“It’s devastating,” Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, told the Orlando Sentinel. “There has been huge damage to property and infrastructure.”
As Florida geared up for the arrival of the storm last Thursday, a group of Christians gathered on a beach in Jacksonville with faith that they could quell it with prayer and worship.
"We're coming out here as group of believers like we did 2 years ago for Hurricane Irma," Mary Parker told News 4 Jax at the Jacksonville Beach Pier. "We came and got in a circle and prayed and we sang."
Even though Irma caused billions in damage and caused multiple deaths, Parker said, "We felt like we (made) a difference.”
A Monday morning advisory from the National Hurricane Center said portions of Florida’s east coast could face life-threatening storm surges.
“Life-threatening storm surges and dangerous hurricane-force winds are expected along portions of the Florida east coast through mid-week. Only a slight deviation to the left of the official forecast would bring the core of Dorian near or over the Florida east coast. Residents should listen to advice given by local emergency officials,” the advisory said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Floridians Sunday that Dorian could cause “massive destruction.”
“It’s important for people to understand if you’re in an evacuation zone and you’re given an order to evacuate, please heed that call,” DeSantis said. “This storm at this magnitude could really cause massive destruction, and do not put your life in jeopardy by staying behind when you have a chance to get out.”
Even though the projected path of the hurricane is currently offshore, experts say the three-day cone of uncertainty now includes all of metro Orlando.
DeSantis has ordered the suspension of all tolls along State Road 528 (the BeachLine Expressway), Alligator Alley, the Sawgrass Expressway (State Road 869) and Florida’s Turnpike, including the Homestead Extension (State Road 821), the Sentinel reported.
In addition to the threats to Florida, the NHC says there is an increasing likelihood of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week.
“Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian and listen to advice given by local emergency officials,” the agency said.