After a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office on Thursday, President Trump warned it could be an “absolute monster” as weather experts urged Floridians to be prepared and take warnings seriously. Some churches said they were also poised to help with the devastation that could follow.
“We’re all working very, very hard on Hurricane Dorian," Trump said in a video address posted to Twitter shortly after announcing the cancellation of a trip to Poland due to the storm. "It’s been interesting because it looked like it was going to be a very small storm but we all got lucky, it missed Puerto Rico, it hit the Virgin Islands but not as bad as it could have.”
The entire state of Florida is now under a state of emergency and authorities urged residents to stockpile a week's worth of food and supplies to meet the impact of the hurricane that is predicted to hit the state as a Category 4 storm as early as Monday.
In his Friday morning update, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said from 8 p.m. Sunday through Monday night, Florida will start experiencing tropical storm force winds across the state.
“Tropical storm force winds mean it’s too dangerous to drive. It’s too dangerous to be on a ladder. It’s too dangerous to be outside holding plywood. In other words, you gotta start having things wrapped up,” he warned. “You have today, you have Saturday and you maybe have early Sunday. Take it seriously. Have your plan ready to go with everything that you need for a week just in case. You have your medicine. You have your supplies. Have all that ready to go in your plan.”
Some areas of the state, he said, could get up to 15 inches of rain while he said forecasts show 10-foot storm surges or higher.
While he still hopes Florida might get “lucky,” Trump noted in his address that experts have told him that Dorian will be at least as big as Hurricane Andrew that devastated Florida as a Category 5 storm in 1992.
“It really began to form, and form big, and now it’s looking like it could be an absolute monster. We’ve got the best people in the world ready and they’re gonna help you. We’re shipping food, we’re shipping water, but it may be you’re going to evacuate. We’re gonna see what happens,” Trump warned Floridians.
“It does seem almost certain that it’s hitting dead center and that’s not good," the president continued. "The winds seem to be building at a tremendous rate. It looks like the winds are going to be unbelievably high. We’re all ready and hopefully we’ll get lucky. But it looks to me like this time it’s heading in one direction. All indications are it’s gonna hit very hard and it’s gonna be very big. Somebody said ‘bigger, or at least as big as Andrew. And if you remember Andrew from many years ago that was not good. So just beware and be safe, and God bless you.”
And as residents braced for the storm, the Crisis Response Team at Decatur Church of Christ in Alabama said they are ready to help after Dorian makes landfall.
“We want to reach out and serve as much as we can, because we’ve been blessed. And being able to come together as this new congregation, the Decatur Church of Christ, we have even more resources than we’ve ever had, so we want to help more than we ever have," church member Cody Michael told WAAY 31. "We spent our whole week last week helping clean up here in Decatur after a bad storm. Now, we’re going to go out of state and try to help even more.”
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief told Kentucky Today that it has entered the initial stages of planning and readying their response for Dorian. The Florida Baptist Convention will also set up a command center at their Jacksonville headquarters, while the SBDR will have representatives at the Florida government's disaster response center.
"Florida Baptists are seasoned veterans at hurricane response," said Sam Porter, national director of SBDR for Send Relief, told the publication.
"They will be ready, and Southern Baptists from all over our nation will be involved in the response. ... We have been in preparation mode all week long, and now SBDR and Send Relief are preparing our emphasis for wherever Dorian strikes. We will continue monitoring the storm throughout the weekend," Porter added.