5 dead as Hurricane Dorian slams into the Bahamas

By Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III, Mike Hayes, Tara John, Jessie Yeung and Bianca Britton, CNN

Updated 1:55 p.m. ET, September 4, 2019
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1:05 a.m. ET, September 2, 2019

Entire islands may be nearly submerged in the Bahamas

Low-lying islands in the Bahamas are at highest risk as Hurricane Dorian sweeps through the island chain.

"Where we are right now, the highest point on this island is only about 30 feet high, the highest point of land -- and so when you hear about a storm surge of 20 feet, that means in the hours and days ahead, much of this island where I am standing will be underwater," said CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann on Sunday in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Islands around us which are more low-lying will be completely submerged," said Oppmann.

In its 11 p.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned of "life-threatening" storm surges of up to 23 feet (7 meters). The slow-moving hurricane is also expected to dump up to 30 inches of rainfall in the northwestern Bahamas.

"It is a terrifying prospect for the many people who have decided to ride out this storm on those low-lying parts of this island and other islands around us," Oppman said. "This is a storm for the history books."

Watch the segment here:

12:24 a.m. ET, September 2, 2019

WATCH: Homes flooded and cars submerged in the Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian is currently slamming the Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands, where residents say their homes have been flooded and roofs blown away.

One video, taken by Vickareio Adderely in Marsh Harbour, a town in the Abaco Islands, shows a road completely underwater and trees stripped of their leaves. Inside, their kitchen is completely swamped and covered in debris.

Adderely told CNN via text message that his four family members were huddled on a single mattress in “the only room that didn’t cave in” in his house.

“There are three houses adjacent to mine that also lost their roof,” he said. He added that he was standing in water “up to his knees” and that strong winds continue to “wreck the remainder of our roof.”

“There is no way we could have been prepared for this,” he wrote. “My house sounds like the ocean.”

Adderely said his sister, Petera Major, have set up a GoFundMe page to help their community rebuild after the storm.

Watch the video here:

12:10 a.m. ET, September 2, 2019

Her last home was destroyed by Hurricane Florence. Now, she's waiting -- and praying.

Christina Dowe, a resident in Wilmington, North Carolina, had her home all but destroyed during Hurricane Florence last year. She bought a new home just three block away last November, and is now getting ready for another destructive hurricane as Dorian approaches.

"We've just been trying to get perishables, getting water, getting flashlights. Just trying to get the necessities, things that we need, so we can be better prepared than we was last year," Dowe told CNN on Sunday evening.

"No-one can really tell on how strong it's going to hold up. You know what I'm saying? All we can do is pray," she said.

She and her sons plan to stay at home. "I don't know, like, where we would go to get away from it, because I don't want to leave and then we can't get back. So we're just going to buckle down and just pray that everything works out better than it did last year," she said.

Watch the segment here:

11:43 p.m. ET, September 1, 2019

Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Watch expanded in Florida

The Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Watch in Florida have been extended northward from the Flagler/Volusia County Line to the mouth of the St. Mary's River.

Here is a summary of all the watches and warnings currently in effect for Hurricane Dorian:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Northwestern Bahamas excluding Andros Island.
  • Jupiter Inlet to the Volusia/Brevard County Line.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Andros Island.
  • North of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet.
  • Volusia/Brevard County Line to the Mouth of the St. Mary's River.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • North of Golden Beach to Deerfield Beach.
  • Lake Okeechobee.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:

  • North of Deerfield Beach to Lantana.
  • Volusia/Brevard County Line to the Mouth of the St. Mary's River.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Lantana to the Volusia/Brevard County Line.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for north of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet.

11:22 p.m. ET, September 1, 2019

Hurricane Dorian makes landfall on Grand Bahama Island

This NOAA GOES-East satellite image shows Hurricane Dorian heading toward the Florida coast, taken on September 1, 2019.
This NOAA GOES-East satellite image shows Hurricane Dorian heading toward the Florida coast, taken on September 1, 2019. NOAA via Getty Images

Dorian is still battering the Abacos and Grand Bahama Islands, according to the latest public advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Storm surges are expected to raise water levels as high as 18 to 23 feet (5 to 7 meters) above normal, producing "large and destructive" waves along the coast of both islands.

The hurricane is forecast to lash the region overnight and through much of Monday. It's now expected to reach Florida's east coast late Monday into Tuesday night.

Residents in the Bahamas should not venture out into the eye, the calmest center of the storm, the NHC said, because as the eye passes, winds will suddenly increase to dangerous levels.

Dorian's wind speeds have slowed slightly from 185 miles per hour to 180 mph, but it's still a Category 5 hurricane.

"Slow weakening is forecast, but fluctuations in intensity could occur couple of days. Regardless, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days," the advisory read.

The center of the storm at 11p.m. is located 55 miles (90 km) east of Freeport on Grand Bahama and 135 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida. Dorian is moving westward at only 6 mph (9 kph).

Read the full advisory here.

11:04 p.m. ET, September 1, 2019

Georgia has issued mandatory evacuations starting noon on Monday

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency and ordering a mandatory evacuation starting noon on Monday for residents east of the I-95 in the following counties:

  • Bryan
  • Camden
  • Chatham
  • Glynn
  • Liberty
  • McIntosh

The order also directs the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and Georgia Department of Transportation to establish westerly contraflow on I-16, starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

10:29 p.m. ET, September 1, 2019

If you're in the US, here's how to prepare for Hurricane Dorian

Store workers in Riviera Beach, Florida put shutters over the windows as Hurricane Dorian approaches on September 1, 2019.
Store workers in Riviera Beach, Florida put shutters over the windows as Hurricane Dorian approaches on September 1, 2019. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Dorian is slowly making its way toward the US, and is expected to reach Florida on Monday. Here are some tips for what to do and what to pack as the hurricane approaches, based on advice from emergency agencies and experts:

What to do:

  • Stay inside and put storm shutters or plywood on your windows and doors.
  • Monitor news and storm updates online, on the radio, or on TV.
  • Make sure your pets have identification tags.
  • Find local emergency shelters and learn the evacuation routes in your area.
  • Unplug small devices and turn off propane tanks.
  • Keep important documents in a waterproof container.

What to pack:

  • First-aid kits, disinfectant, soap, wet wipes, and feminine supplies.
  • Extra batteries, flashlights, jumper cables, and a GPS.
  • Non-perishable or canned foods, and cooking and eating utensils.
  • A week's supply of prescription medicines.

After the hurricane arrives:

  • Let your friends and loved ones know you're safe.
  • Document property damage with photos, and contact your insurance company for assistance.

What NOT to do:

  • If you've evacuated, only return home once authorities say it's safe to do so.
  • Stay away from floodwaters -- they are often contaminated with sewage or dangerous animals.
  • Never walk or drive on flooded roads.
  • Don't drink tap water unless authorities say it's safe.

Read the full checklist here.

9:47 p.m. ET, September 1, 2019

These Florida airports will shut down at noon on Monday

As Hurricane Dorian crawls toward the US, Orlando Melbourne International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport both announced they will suspend commercial flights and close their terminals at noon tomorrow.

So far, 770 flights into, out of or within the US that were scheduled to take off tomorrow have been canceled, according to data from FlightAware. Many of those cancellations have been through Florida airports.

9:14 p.m. ET, September 1, 2019

It's calm inside Dorian's eye, but you should not go outside, National Hurricane Center warns

The National Hurricane Center is urging people in the Bahamas to stay inside as the eye — the calmest part of the storm — passes over.

"This is a life-threatening situation," the center said in a 9 p.m. ET update. "Do not leave your shelter as the eye passes over, as winds will rapidly increase on the other side of the eye."

Some background: The eye is the center of the storm. It is the calmest part of the storm, and if you're in it, you can even see blue sky during the day and stars at night.

However, the eyewall, which surrounds the eye, is the most dangerous portion of the storm. This is the only area where you will find the winds that are the "strength" of the hurricane, or maximum winds.

This chart shows the anatomy of a hurricane: