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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7:53 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Rescues underway after Dorian destroys the Bahamas

Dorian has wreaked havoc in the Bahamas and we're only now starting to get a sense of the extent of the destruction left in its wake.

Neko Gibson is the founder and owner of BahamasEvac services in Nassau. He spoke to CNN shortly after returning from Abacos, where he has been assisting in evacuation and rescue operations.

"Everybody's trying to do the best that they can," Gibson said Wednesday morning. "Problem is the winds and weather that has been a hazard for traffic to get in and out of Abaco."

He praised the authorities for their tireless work and said that most of the runways were still unusable with only one operating in the south.

7:27 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

How to help victims of Dorian

From CNN's Amy Chillag

Hurricane Dorian has left the Bahamas devastated, with residents reporting widespread damage -- homes ripped apart, water covering everything in its path. Relief organizations are scrambling to help and we're just beginning to understand how bad the damage is.

You can help raise funds for supplies and assistance that's so desperately needed. Find out more here:

7:20 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

These satellite pictures of Grand Bahama Island show the enormity of Dorian's devastation

From CNN's Meg Wagner and Artemis Moshtaghian

A striking satellite image of Grand Bahama Island shows vast areas of the island under water.

The yellow lines mark where the land was before the storm flooded the area in this stunning before and after comparison of the island.

6:56 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Georgia's governor expands state of emergency

From CNN’s Devon Sayers

21 counties in Georgia are now under a state of emergency.

Georgia's Governor Brian P. Kemp issued an executive order Wednesday morning, expanding the state of emergency declared last week to now include Appling, Bacon, Bulloch, Clinch, Echols, Evans, Screven, Tattnall, and Ware Counties.

Counties Brantley, Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, and Wayne counties remain under a state of emergency.

6:30 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Effects of Hurricane Dorian in Neptune Beach, Florida 

From CNN's Gianluca Mezzofiore

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office posted a video showing the arrival of Dorian in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

5:59 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

Residents along Florida's coast face mandatory evacuations

Johnny Miller, the mayor of Fernandina Beach, Florida told CNN that the city is prepping for the worst.

"We're starting to feel a little bit of a breeze here now so we expect it to be coming in this afternoon and then going throughout this evening. We've been under mandatory evacuation for days - we look like we're going to take a big hit," Miller told CNN Wednesday.

The city, which is situated between the ocean and a river and is home to more than 12,000 residents, has created large sand barricades across vulnerable swathes of beach in preparation for the storm's arrival.

Miller said that his main concern was over getting people to evacuate before the bridges close.

He added that there's been an "unprecedented response" to the mandatory evacuation.

"We've been through several of these in the past," he added.

5:25 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

In the Bahamas, volunteer rescue teams are working around the clock to save stranded residents

Rescue missions are underway in the Bahamas by civilians who are volunteering to brave treacherous conditions around the island on their own boats and jet skis in an effort to rescue neighbors, friends and strangers.

In Freeport, CNN’s Patrick Oppmann and crew were able to capture these efforts of volunteers, who are working around the clock in harrowing conditions.

The volunteers have been able to save dozens of people who are in “awful shape,” who had been seen swimming in the water, hanging onto roofs, and who had witnessed their relatives carried off by the storm surge.

Intense hurricane conditions are still battering much of the island and several boats and jet skis flipped during the rescue attempts, Oppmann reported.

However, some were hopeful that more rescues would begin Wednesday morning after a coast guard helicopter was seen flying over the island late last night.   

Watch more in Oppmann's report from Freeport here:

5:06 a.m. ET, September 4, 2019

South Carolina's Charleston International Airport will close at 3 p.m.

All operations at Charleston International Airport will cease at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the airport said. 

Depending on the weather conditions, airport operations are expected to resume Friday morning.  

The airport said that it strongly recommends that passengers stay in contact with airlines for up to date information on flight operations and cancellations. 

Passengers can also check the airline's website for updates.