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Florida braces itself for Hurricane Dorian

August 30, 2019

Despite the Caribbean escaping largely unscathed, the hurricane is gathering pace as it heads towards the US mainland. President Trump has canceled a planned trip to Poland as a result.

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Dorian, 2019
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Zumapress

Florida residents fearing the worst rushed to their local grocery stores on Thursday as panic buying increased ahead of the expected impact of Hurricane Dorian.

Shelves were emptied of bottled water and gas stations experienced long lines of people urgently stockpiling fuel. Some fuel shortages were also reported in the Cape Canaveral area.

Along Florida's east coast, authorities started giving out sandbags in efforts to stave off potential floods. A state of emergency was declared earlier this week and the state of Georgia, located to the north of Florida, has followed suit.

Gathering momentum

The damage caused by Dorian so far is not as bad as first feared in the regions of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but the hurricane is gathering momentum as it nears the US peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center said the Category 1 storm is expected to strengthen into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 with winds of 130 mph (209 kph). Experts have suggested it will hit the US mainland on Monday, somewhere along Florida's east coast. 

"If it makes landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that's a big deal," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. "A lot of people are going to be affected."

Nevertheless, with the outlook still unclear, no mass evacuations have been planned.

Trump stays home

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has canceled a planned trip to Poland.

"Our highest priority is the safety and security of the people in the path of the hurricane," he told reporters outside the White House.

The European nation remains hopeful the US president will reschedule for later this year.

Vice President Mike Pence will substitute for Trump at commemorations marking the outbreak of World War II in Poland.

jsi/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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