A state of emergency has been declared in Florida as it braces for a hurricane which is expected to grow even stronger before it hits land.
Hurricane Dorian, which is currently north of Puerto Rico, has passed most of the Caribbean without causing major damage, but is predicted to reach Florida in three days’ time.
The US National Hurricane Center says it is likely to strengthen into a major hurricane on Friday.
Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has urged people living on the east coast to load up with at least seven days’ worth of supplies, such as food and water, adding: “All indications are that by this Labour Day weekend, a powerful hurricane will be near or over the Florida peninsula.”
Although Dorian is currently classed as a category 1 hurricane, it is threatening to grow into a dangerous category 3 (out of 5) storm as it approaches the US.
This could mean winds stronger than 111mph (178km/h) by the time it makes landfall, most likely on Florida’s eastern coast late on Sunday or early on Monday – although experts have warned landfall could occur anywhere between southern Florida and South Carolina.
The US Coast Guard has warned all pleasure boats in Key West to seek safe harbour and ocean-going vessels to leave the port.
The Bahamas is also preparing for a major strike by the storm, with the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama most at risk.
Heavy rain and blackouts hit parts of Puerto Rico, the US and the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday as the storm passed by.
President Donald Trump had issued an emergency declaration for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
It meant federal assistance would go to the territories to help with disaster relief.
Mayor of the small Puerto Rican island of Culebra William Solis said only one community lost power.
“We’re happy because there are no damages to report,” he added.
Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 that killed about 3,000 people, prompting a feud with Mr Trump, who claimed the country had not been hard-hit.
Puerto Rican public schools were due to remain closed again on Thursday and public workers were instructed to stay home.
US Virgin Islands government spokesman Richard Motta said the storm downed trees and at least one electric pole in St Thomas, but there were no reports of major flooding.
“We are grateful that it wasn’t a stronger storm,” he said.
British Virgin Islands Governor Augustus Jaspert said on Wednesday afternoon local time that crews were already clearing roads and inspecting infrastructure.
Source: SKY NEWS