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Hurricane on track for Florida after strike in Caribbean

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    Residents gather at the William Rivera Vocational School converted into a temporary shelter, before the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Dorian became a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday as it struck the U.S. Virgin Islands, with forecasters saying it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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    A girl walks on a sandy beach holding a sunflower and her flip flops after the passing of Tropical Storm Dorian, in the Condado district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The Hurricane Center said the storm could grow into a dangerous Category 3 storm as it pushes northwest in the general direction of Florida. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

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    A woman poses for a photo backdropped by ocean waters and a Puerto Rican national flag, after the passing of Tropical Storm Dorian, in the Condado district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. The Hurricane Center said the storm could grow into a dangerous Category 3 storm as it pushes northwest in the general direction of Florida. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

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    Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez speaks during a press conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Forecasters said Dorian became a hurricane as it neared the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Hurricane Center says tropical storm conditions were expected Wednesday in Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Gianfranco Gaglione)

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    Residents arrive at the William Rivera Vocational School converted into a temporary shelter, before the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Dorian became a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday as it struck the U.S. Virgin Islands, with forecasters saying it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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    Mency Serrano, 70, rests on a cot at the William Rivera Vocational School converted into a temporary shelter, before the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Dorian became a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday as it struck the U.S. Virgin Islands, with forecasters saying it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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    Citizens stock up on gasoline a few hours before the passing of tropical storm Dorian, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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    Citizens stock up on supplies a few hours before the passing of tropical storm Dorian, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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    Emergency Center personnel stand next to a tv screen showing a meteorological image of the tropical storm Dorian, as they await its arrival, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

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    People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Published August 29. 2019 11:43AM

MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Dorian posed an increasing menace to Florida as it pushed over open waters Thursday after leaving limited damage in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dorian was expected to grow into a potentially devastating Category 3 hurricane before hitting the U.S. mainland late Sunday or early Monday somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia.

Across much of Florida’s east coast, residents began flocking to the grocery stores and gas stations, stocking up in anticipation of the storm. There were lines at many gas stations in South Florida as people began filling gas cans and topping off their gas tanks. Some residents using community Facebook groups gave updates on new shipments of water to restock the nearly empty shelves at local grocery stores.

Josefine Larrauri, a retired translator, went to a Publix supermarket in Miami only to find empty shelves in the water section and store employees were unsure of when new cases would arrive.

Larrauri fled to Orlando two years ago when Hurricane Irma was expected to hit South Florida as a Category 5 storm and ended up shifting west to land on the Lower Keys and then Marco Island. This time, Larrauri said the uncertainty made her nervous.

“I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened,” she said. “What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the state’s eastern and central counties Wednesday and planned to visit the National Hurricane Center in Miami on Thursday morning.

County governments along the state’s central east coast distributed sandbags and many residents rushed to warehouse retailers to load up on water, canned food and emergency supplies.

The Hurricane Center encouraged everyone in affected areas of the Bahamas and the Florida coast to have a hurricane plan in place and “not focus on the exact forecast track of Dorian’s center.”

“Hurricane Dorian looks like it will be hitting Florida late Sunday night,” President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Be prepared and please follow State and Federal instructions, it will be a very big Hurricane, perhaps one of the biggest!”

At the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, next door to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, workers prepared and stood ready to support the many private rocket companies on site.

“The question is how bad is it going to be,” 45th Space Wing spokesman Jim Williams said Thursday.

Managers at Kennedy, meanwhile, kept close watch on the storm’s track while debating whether to move the mobile launch platform off the pad and into the safety of the massive Vehicle Assembly Building, built to withstand 125 mph (200 kph) gusts.

The mobile launcher is being tested at the pad for the first launch of NASA’s mega rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, set to fly in the next year or two.

Dorian blew through the Virgin Islands as a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday while raking nearby Puerto Rico with high winds and rains.

The storm caused an islandwide blackout in St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and scattered power outages in St. Croix, government spokesman Richard Motta said. The storm also downed trees and at least one electric pole in St. Thomas, he said.

And there were no reports of serious damage in the British Virgin Islands, where Gov. Augustus Jaspert said crews were already clearing roads and inspecting infrastructure by late Wednesday afternoon.

Dorian was centered about 220 miles (355 kilometers) north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico by late Thursday morning. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said its top winds were blowing at 85 mph (140 kph) as the storm moved northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

The Hurricane Center projected the storm could have winds of 125 mph (200 kph) by the time it reaches the mainland. Also imperiled were the Bahamas, with Dorian’s forecast track running just to the north of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

Puerto Rico seemed to be spared any heavy wind and rain, a huge relief on an island where blue tarps still cover some 30,000 homes nearly two years after Hurricane Maria. The island’s 3.2 million inhabitants also depend on an unstable power grid that remains prone to outages since it was destroyed by Maria, a Category 4 storm.

Several hundred customers were without power across Puerto Rico, said Ángel Figueroa, president of a union that represents power workers.

Police said an 80-year-old man in the northern town of Bayamón died Wednesday after he fell trying to climb up to his roof to clear it of debris ahead of the storm.

Associated Press writers Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Marcia Dunn in Cape Canaveral, Florida; and Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; contributed to this report.

Comments
So when it looks like it was going to hit PR, trump tweeted insults at the leadership of PR and suggestions that they aren't getting any money for disaster relief. No tweets telling PR citizens to take cover or well wishes to them. Now that it is hitting FLorida, all sorts of concern. The difference? trump needs votes in florida to be re-elected.

Drain the swamp
Come on “know-it-all Joe”, maybe Trump knew that the PR would be saved. Maybe President Trump is all knowing...like you. Now, you refused to rebuke T2C & Bill Maher and their, “celebrate the death of Koch”, as you criticize Trump about lack of concern over PR tweets. The difference? You are a Trump hating ultra-biased swamp dweller. Come on out of the swamp Joe. We will send James Comey in to find you.
All I know is there were scared people in PR awaiting landfall while their president was tweeting about his disdain for PR’d leadership and suggesting no help was coming. That’s not leadership.
The people of PR know America is always there for them. The people of PR know that President Trump gave them full support last time. That is fresh in their memory. I have some PR friends that say they “love Trump on PR.” You may not like to hear that. That is how leadership is. You are a biased hater Joe. Keep it up.
PR has had territory status since WW1 so I hardly think this is a rush. The point is lack of representation and accountability. As a state they would get representation and be less likely to be viewed as a second class citizen. As a state there would be more accountability with their leadership as well. But politics prevents this because statehood would mean 2 more non-republican senators and 4 or 5 more non-republican congressmen.
Not exactly Joe. Many in the PR are content to remain as they are. PR has a mound of debt that makes those with fiscal responsibility shy away from getting more involved with Statehood. PR is fine as a Territory. They have a lot of US help, but, they need to work out their own problems. The people of the PR are nice and independent minded. They want to work out their own problems.

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