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Dorian, back to a Category 3 hurricane, creeps up US coast

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    Andrew Parker watches the latest on Hurricane Dorian from the bar at Huc-A-Poos pizza restaurant, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in Tybee Island, Ga. Parker said he’s been through eight hurricanes in his lifetime as a resident of Tybee. And like the others Parker said he plans on riding Dorian out at his home on the island. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

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    Large waves crashed onto the beach of Tybee Island, Ga., Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019 as Hurricane Dorian moved closer to the Georgia coast. (Casey Jones/Savannah Morning News via AP)

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    The sun sets over Lake Eustis in Tavares, Fla., on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. By Wednesday, Hurricane Dorian was pushing northward a relatively safe distance 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. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

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    Gordon and Dina Reynolds, with their 11-year-old granddaughter, Abby, sit on cots in the hall way of the North Myrtle Beach High School that is currently being used as a Red Cross evacuation shelter Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019 in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Weakened but still deadly, Hurricane Dorian crept up the Southeastern coast of the United States and millions were ordered to evacuate as forecasters said near-record levels of seawater and rain could inundate Georgia and the Carolinas. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP)

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    Dora Corso sits with all her belongings in the hallway of the North Myrtle Beach High School in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Wednesday Sept. 4, 2019. Corso was evacuated from the beach front resort where she was living to the Red Cross shelter and has no plans for where to go after the storm passes. Residents of North Myrtle Beach are awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Dorian later today and through Thursday. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP)

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    Justin Patterson, left, Heather Richardson, and Beth Sabia, all of Georgetown, sit at Buzz’s Roost, a restaurant and bar on Winyah Bay in Georgetown, South Carolina Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Locals come to the bar open through hurricane weather. Last year customers waded through water to get to the open restaurant with a bar. (Ken Ruinard /The Independent-Mail via AP)

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    Kate Ball, left, joins her friend Derrian Coupe, both of Georgetown, sit at Buzz’s Roost, a restaurant and bar on Winyah Bay in Georgetown, South Carolina Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Locals come to the bar open through hurricane weather. Last year customers waded through water to get to the open restaurant with a bar. “I can’t sit at home and do nothing,” Coupe said. ((Ken Ruinard /The Independent-Mail via AP)

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    Kate Ball, left, joins her friend Derrian Coupe, both of Georgetown, sit at Buzz’s Roost, a restaurant and bar on Winyah Bay in Georgetown, South Carolina Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Locals come to the bar open through hurricane weather. Last year customers waded through water to get to the open restaurant with a bar. “I can’t sit at home and do nothing,” Coupe said. (Ken Ruinard /The Independent-Mail via AP)

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    Boats are removed from the water at Winters Yachts in Swansboro N.C. as Hurricane Dorian moves up the East coast on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Tom Copeland)

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    The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbor, Abaco Island, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has climbed to 20. Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands released the figure Wednesday evening and warned that more fatalities were likely. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

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    The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbor, Abaco Island, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has climbed to 20. Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands released the figure Wednesday evening and warned that more fatalities were likely. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

Published September 05. 2019 04:54AM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Hurricane Dorian , back to a Category 3 storm, began raking the Southeast U.S. seaboard early Thursday and left tens of thousands without power as it threatened to inundate low-lying coasts from Georgia to Virginia with a life-threatening storm surge after its deadly mauling of the Bahamas.

Dorian squatted over the island nation as its strongest hurricane on record, leaving widespread devastation and at least 20 people dead. But it weakened substantially in the days since, dropping from a Category 5 to a Category 2 storm before increasing again late Wednesday. Dorian could maintain this intensity for several days before gradually weakening through Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of early Thursday more than 68,700 customers in Charleston County and over 15,200 in Beaufort County were without power, according to Dominion Energy. Berkeley Electric Cooperative reports another 12,600 lost electricity in Charleston County.

Duke Energy in a news release Wednesday said it expected the storm to cause 700,000 outages in the Carolinas and that it brought in resources from 23 states and Canada to respond “as soon as it was safe to do so.”

More than 1,500 people sought refuge in 28 shelters in South Carolina, where sheets of rain began falling late Wednesday in the historic port city of Charleston, located on a peninsula prone to flooding. As Dorian crept dangerously closer, winds picked up sending rain sheets sideways, thunder boomed in the night sky and power flickered on and off in places.

Dorian remained a force to be reckoned with, its swirling circle of winds and rain wrapped around a large, gaping eye visible on photos taken from space. At 8 a.m. EDT Thursday the distinct eye of the hurricane churned about 70 miles (115 kilometers) south-southeast of Charleston, moving north at 8 mph (13 kph) off the coast with dangerously high winds of 115 mph (185 kph) extending about 60 miles (95 kilometers) outward.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for the coasts of both South and North Carolina. Forecasters said Dorian’s center could move over the coast of North Carolina Thursday night or Friday before gaining forward speed and moving off the coast of New England on Saturday.

In Charleston’s downtown, stores and restaurants were boarded up with wood and corrugated metal and about 830,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders on the South Carolina coast. A flood chart posted by the National Weather Service projected a combined high tide and storm surge around Charleston Harbor of 10.3 feet (3.1 meters); the record, 12.5 feet (4 meters), was set by Hugo in 1989.

The Charleston County Emergency Operations Center advised early Thursday that all bridges were a Code Yellow due to 35 mph (56 kph) winds. It said high-profile vehicles such as box trucks and tractor trailers should not travel the bridges and that the public should use extreme caution.

Hundreds of shelter animals from coastal South Carolina arrived in Delaware ahead of the storm. The News Journal of Wilmington reports nearly 200 animals were airlifted early Tuesday from shelters at risk of flooding. About 150 other animals were expected to arrive that night via land transport. WDBJ-TV reports more than 50 animals from North Carolina were shipped to Virginia and may be available for adoption as early as this weekend.

Hundreds of thousands also were ordered off the Georgia coast. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said “we are very worried, especially about the barrier islands getting cut off.”

Dorian’s approach left the cobblestone streets of Savannah, Georgia’s downtown historic district largely deserted. But there were still places to find a hurricane party. More than 30 people gathered at Pinkie Master’s Lounge on Wednesday evening, even as wind gusts bent tree tops in Savannah — nearly 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland.

In North Carolina, where authorities said an 85-year-old man died after falling from a ladder while preparing his home for Dorian, Gov. Roy Cooper warned of a coming storm surge and flash flooding from heavy rains. The Outer Banks barrier islands were particularly exposed.

In Florida, initially projected to take a direct hit, there was widespread relief Wednesday after Dorian passed by from a relatively safe distance offshore. Orlando’s international airport reopened, as did Walt Disney World and Universal. But one Florida resident had died while preparing for the storm, a 56-year-old man who was knocked to the ground from a tree Monday evening as he trimmed limbs with a chainsaw in an Orlando suburb.

The Navy ordered ships at its huge base in Norfolk, Virginia, to head to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, were being moved inland. The commander of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic issued an emergency evacuation order for military personnel and their dependents in five North Carolina counties.

The acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peter Gaynor, said 4,000 federal responders; 6,000 National Guard members; and 40,000 utility workers were on standby.

“We are ready to go,” Gaynor said. “We’ll follow Dorian up the coast until it is not a threat.”

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Associated Press reporters Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jeffrey Collins in Carolina Beach, North Carolina; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Michael Schneider in Orlando, Florida, David Fischer in Miami, and Meg Kinnard in Charleston, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

Comments
Weather changes? Tell your president that. I Sunday he was telling Alabama to prepare for the hurricane when that weather report changed 4 days before. Funny that didn’t come up in his hourly briefings on the golf course
“I Sunday he was telling...”, here you are with a mistake Joe. Your mistake is just as serious as President Trump’s mistake. So I guess you are an incompetent, immoral, liar. Funny...
Lance, it’s called auto correct. Sometimes it doesn’t fix things correctly. Explain how that is “as serious” as a president not knowing the current forecast of a potential natural disaster that he prepped for with his 238th day of golfing during his presidency.

Your president is an idiot.
So, know-it-all Joe, you do not proofread your posts? You constantly criticize President Trump for the content of his posts. Why is that? Apparently, you have low standards for yourself, but, high standards for someone you hate. Looks like you are the idiot. “Sometimes it doesn’t fix things correctly.” Ha. You are the cpa that was advised by a citizen to take a basic course in accounting. Ha. Looks like you are underperforming. President Trump is easily more competent than you. Keep it up.
Well, maybe you should proofread Joe. I am going to begin holding you to the same standards that you hold President Trump & his associates to. Let’s see how well you do under scrutiny. Let’s do a 2.5 year investigation on you and see how well you hold up. Keep it up.
You crack me up Joe!
Take em on Joe... what's his name.
You obviously feel a great need to prove something for "Joe"
Why? Who really gives a hoot anymore. He's the President of the United States. Though I never trusted the Kenyan, I did not disrespect or hate him. I prayed for him. Try praying for the leader of your country. It's hard to be critical of something you pray for.
Oh... the Kenyan? Yeah, I'm not convinced he's an American Born Citizen. There's more evidence he's from Kenya. But that's just me talking about the first Kenyan POTUS.
Soon we will see how “respectable” Mr. Obama was during his Administration. As a lifelong community organizer, let us see whether he set that trait aside as he entered the White House for the first time. Have patience Joe. You should welcome a thorough investigation.
Come on little Joey. I noticed you have recently started swearing on a regular basis. Swearing indicates weakness. President Trump is breaking you down. Along with multiple spelling and grammar errors that indicates low intellect, you are obviously slipping. See where hatred gets you. You should be proud to be an American during Trump’s awesome historic Presidency. We are looking for total reversal of the criminal community organizer’s agenda. The era of treason is over. Community Organization is treasonous. This is big, Joe.

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