Here’s what you need to know:
Rough surf on Thursday at Myrtle Beach, S.C., as Hurricane Dorian approached the coast.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times
Dorian lashes the Carolinas, heading toward the Outer Banks.
Hurricane Dorian was pounding much of the Carolina coast with heavy rain and strong winds on Thursday, spawning small tornadoes and causing widespread power losses and flooding.
By Thursday morning, the Category 2 storm was about 50 miles from Charleston, S.C., as it continues its creep up the East Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. And while the eye of the storm has so far remained offshore, the center’s models show it could possibly make landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday.
The center of a storm does not have to make landfall to cause serious damage, and hurricane-strength winds were expected to pummel parts of the South Carolina coast on Thursday. Forecasters said storm surge waters could flood up to eight feet in some areas.
Dorian’s rain bands were whipping cities from Savannah, Ga., to Wilmington, N.C., and places along the coast could receive as much as 15 inches of rain before the storm departs. Approximately 360,000 South Carolinians have been evacuated from their homes. The storm has already knocked out power for about 200,000 customers in South Carolina, as well as 12,800 in Georgia.
Maps: Tracking Hurricane Dorian’s Path
Maps tracking the hurricane’s path as it makes its way toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
The wind howls through Charleston, as it watches for rising water.
The wind began howling and groaning in Charleston around 2 a.m., bending trees to its will, downing power lines and toppling trees.
By daybreak, it felt as though the storm had fully arrived. Streets were flooding, and local TV forecasters, urging people to remain in their homes, warned that the worst of the storm would be felt in Charleston through at least noon. Charleston County government officials ordered residents to stay off high-span bridges, given sustained winds of more than 30 miles per hour. City government posted a running online tally of flooded and impassible streets.
“Remember, TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN,” the Charleston Police tweeted.
Charleston has accrued deep hurricane experience in recent years, as well as deep scars — particularly from Hurricane Hugo, which hit the city hard in September 1989. At the time, computer storm tracking was not as sophisticated as it is today, and social media did not exist. Many residents were caught unprepared as the storm toppled buildings or blew them away.
Hurricane Hugo killed 35 people in South Carolina, and damaged or destroyed more than 21,000 homes statewide. According to the author Brian Hicks, it also marked a turning point in Charleston history. With many older, less steady buildings damaged beyond repair, Joe Riley, the mayor at the time, saw an opportunity with so many patches of blank canvas to fill in and helped revitalize the city.
Tornadoes were spinning off the storm in North Myrtle Beach and Wilmington.
At least two tornadoes had touched down in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Pat Dowling, the city’s public information officer, said.
One of the tornadoes was “pretty sizable,” he said, and though it damaged a couple of condominium buildings and a mobile park near the Intracoastal Waterway, there were no injuries and everybody was safe.
The outer bands of Hurricane Dorian were also reaching north to Wilmington, N.C., slamming the area with heavy rain and winds — and causing at least one tornado.
Dorian’s center was far away, but its tropical-storm-force winds extended nearly 200 miles from its center, and its effects could be felt in Wilmington, a port city of about 122,000 on North Carolina’s southeastern coast. The National Weather Service’s local office warned that even if the eye avoids landfall, the city would experience winds equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane.
Thursday would be a day of “high risk for flash flooding in southeastern North Carolina, and we know too well that floodwaters can be deadly,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday.
On Wednesday Mr. Cooper announced that an 85-year-old man in Columbus County had died after falling off a ladder while preparing for the storm.
Wilmington is under a storm surge warning through Sunday morning, and forecasters said water could rise between four and seven feet in some areas. Many of the neighborhoods along Cape Fear River, which flows through the city toward Fayetteville, were expected to flood.
Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, said a shelter at an elementary school had filled up but that two others still had room.
Wilmington is no stranger to hurricanes. Hurricane Florence dumped rain on the city and swelled its rivers in 2018, essentially cutting it off from the rest of the state. Residents lost electricity for several days.
And residents still recall the devastation from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which turned streets into rivers and took many residents by surprise.
Four hurricanes later, the ocean’s allure stays strong.
A first-person account from Chris Dixon, an author and journalist.
I engaged in a grim ritual with my neighbors on Wednesday, sweating and cursing under a broiling Charleston sun while draping sheets of plywood across the windows on my house. For the fourth time since 2016, I was preparing for a hurricane: Matthew, Irma, Florence and now Dorian.
Depending on your point of view, I am lucky or unlucky enough to live on a tidal creek near Folly Beach, S.C. When hurricanes and tropical storms strafe our coast, their winds roar across the several miles of harbor and normally placid marsh that separate our neighborhood from the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. As the tides rise, these winds pile seawater into wave-driven surge and batter the homes in my neighborhood.
Yanking a splinter from my thumb, I asked myself, Why do I live here?
I should know better. When I was young, my great-aunt Ethel told frightful tales of Hurricane Hazel’s 1954 destruction of the Carolina coast. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo upended my life by destroying my home in Surfside Beach, north of Charleston. Two years ago, I gasped as the tides from Hurricane Irma casually carried a foot of marsh into my house while sweeping tons of my yard out to sea. And last year, while covering Hurricane Florence for The New York Times, I spent many tense hours among people who were in the process of losing everything.
So why do I choose to live in this slowly drowning port city? Why endure the annual stress of possibly losing everything? Why constantly check computer models before frantically hauling everything inside, boarding up, driving for safety and then waiting for interminable hours while glued to The Weather Channel?
Because the ocean is my family’s life and my livelihood. My wife grew up in Dana Point, Calif., with the Pacific in her backyard and saltwater in her veins. I grew up in Atlanta but had the great fortune of spending my summers along this Carolina coast — sailing, fishing and, eventually, having my life taken over by surfing.
It sounds cliché, but when your entire life comes to revolve around the ocean, it becomes almost impossible to imagine living any other way. You come to define life not by the hours on the clock, but by the ebb and flow of the tides and the rhythm of the winds and swells. You become deeply enmeshed in a culture of shrimpers, crabbers, divers and surfers. You watch your kids come to revere the ocean and respect its moods and its power. You manage to make a living writing about the ocean. You catch a perfect wave from a hurricane-spawned groundswell at your local break.
Now a Category 2 storm, Hurricane Dorian is slowly moving northwest, threatening the U.S. southeast coast, after leaving behind major damage in the Bahamas.CreditCreditScott McIntyre for The New York Times
In the Bahamas, homes were turned to matchsticks.
The pilot was anxious to help: He had gathered generators, diapers, tuna fish and other supplies. The people living on the islands in the Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian needed them, immediately.
But he wasn’t sure if there was anywhere to land.
Flying over the hardest-hit areas — the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama — the pilot saw homes turned to matchsticks and boats piled in heaps.
Harbors, supermarkets, a public hospital, airport landing strips — all had been damaged or blown to smithereens, frustrating rescue efforts.
[The Bahamas was stunned when the hurricane’s water receded.]
Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall on Sunday as a Category 5 storm and then lingered for days, not only left many residents in the most damaged islands without jobs or a place to live. It also stripped away the services required to meet their most immediate needs — like fresh water, food and medical care.
“It’s like a bomb went off, honestly,” said Julie Sands, who lives in Cherokee Sound, in the Abaco Islands.
In the Bahamas, with floodwaters receding, the trail of devastation was slowly becoming clear as residents began tallying their losses. As of Wednesday, according to Dr. Duane Sands, the minister of health, at least 20 people had been confirmed dead and the toll was expected to rise.
The Bahamas, Before and After Hurricane Dorian
Aerial images of flattened neighborhoods and a flooded airport give a first look at the large-scale damage there.
After a close call, Florida stands down and offers to help its neighbors.
“I want to thank all Floridians for hanging in there during what was a frustrating process,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Thursday. “This was a storm where we had a cone of uncertainty last week covering almost the entire state of Florida.”
He said the state’s emergency operations based in Tallahassee, the capital, would shut down but his administration would be ready to assist Georgia or the Carolinas as needed.
Mr. DeSantis also said he would be willing to send National Guard troops to the Bahamas if the federal government deems that helpful. Florida will also send bottles of water to the islands. The water will expire in the coming months, and if another storm threatened Florida, the state would have no problem backfilling its supply stocks, the governor said.
“I don’t want that to go to waste if we have the ability to use that to help some folks,” he said.
And he urged Floridians to keep any vacation plans they might have to the many Bahamian islands that were not hit by Dorian.
“Canceling those plans doesn’t help them in their recovery,” he said.
Bahamians in Miami are also lending a hand.
The ties could not be stronger between Miami and the Bahamas, an archipelago less than 200 miles east. Bahamians settled in South Florida decades before Miami was born, building bridges and railroads and raising children who would become some of the region’s most prominent leaders. This week, their descendants, many veterans of devastating hurricanes, gathered across South Florida to lend a hand.
“When we were desperate, people came to our rescue,” said Charles Bethel, 68, a retired state juvenile justice administrator who lost his home in south Miami-Dade County to Hurricane Andrew, another Category 5 storm, in 1992. “The community pulled together. There was no sense of division. Now, we are doing the same.”
[Bahamian descendants in Miami are helping the battered nation.]
Miami owes its very beginnings to residents from there. Bahamian laborers worked in construction and agriculture, creating the city’s infrastructure and teaching white settlers unfamiliar with the tropics how to build with coral rock, till the soil and plant tropical fruit, said Marvin Dunn, a retired college professor who chronicled local history in his book “Black Miami in the Twentieth Century.”
Bahamians started to arrive in the 1880s, following an economic downturn on the islands, Dr. Dunn said. Many went to work in pineapple fields in Key West and then migrated north to Coconut Grove, which they called Kebo. Bahamians also settled in the Miami neighborhood of Overtown and in Carver Ranches, which is now part of the city of West Park, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale.
On Wednesday in Miami, volunteers gathered in houses of worship, dripping with sweat as they sorted through heavy boxes and bags. Stacks of water bottles. Heaps of diapers. Baby formula. A chain saw. So many donations came in that Christ Episcopal ran out of pallets.
Reporting was contributed by Patricia Mazzei, Nick Madigan, Adeel Hassan, Sarah Mervosh, Kirk Semple, Frances Robles, Rachel Knowles and Elisabeth Malkin.
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