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Florida Braces for Hurricane Isaias, 85 MPH Winds

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Hurricane Isaias ripped shingles off roofs and blew over trees as it carved its way through the Bahamas early Saturday and headed toward the Florida coast, where officials in Miami said they were closing beaches, marinas and parks.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez said Friday that 20 evacuation centers were on standby.

“We still don’t think there is a need to open shelters for this storm, but they are ready,” he said.

Authorities in North Carolina ordered the evacuation of Ocracoke Island, which was slammed by last year’s Hurricane Dorian, starting Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas evacuated people on Abaco island, who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian.

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People living on the eastern end of Grand Bahama were also being moved.

Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph on Saturday morning and some strengthening was possible later Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

The storm was centered about 50 miles south of Nassau in the Bahamas and was moving northwest at 12 mph. Forecasters said some decrease in its forward motion was expected.

Paula Miller, Mercy Corps director for the Bahamas, told The Associated Press that while the islands can normally withstand strong hurricanes, some have been destabilized by the damage caused by Dorian.

“With everything not quite shored up, property not secured, home not prepared, even a Category 1 will be enough to set them back,” she said.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Florida’s east coast from Boca Raton, just north of Miami, about 150 miles north to the Volusia-Flagler county line.

A hurricane watch was in effect from Hallendale Beach to south of Boca Raton.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was “fully prepared for this and any future storm during this hurricane season,” with stockpiles of personal protective equipment, generators, bottled water and meals ready to be distributed.

But he urged people to have seven days of food, water and medication on hand.

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In Daytona Beach and Polk County, authorities distributed sandbags and other officials advised people to have emergency provisions at home sufficient for three to seven days.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the northwest Bahamas but was no longer in effect for the central Bahamas.

“Continue to hunker down,” Trevor Basden, director of the Bahamas’ meteorology department, said.

Two of those islands, Abaco and Grand Bahama, were battered by Dorian, a Category 5 storm that hovered over the area for two days and killed at least 70 people, with more than 280 reported missing.

People are still living in tents on both islands, and officials said crews tried to remove leftover debris ahead of Isaias.

On Thursday, while still a tropical storm, Isaias toppled trees, destroyed crops and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where hundreds of thousands of people were left without power and water.

Officials reported that a man died in the Dominican Republic when he was electrocuted by a fallen electrical cable.

More than 5,000 people were evacuated, and more than 130 communities remained cut off by floodwaters.

In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floodwaters that swept away one woman who remained missing.

Isaias was expected to drop from 4 to 8 inches of rain in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.


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