There is “increasing likelihood” of strong winds and storm surge in the Carolinas from Hurricane Dorian and heavy rain and flooding is likely in the southeastern U.S. later in the week, stated the National Hurricane Center in an update at 5 pm Sunday.

Dorian was upgraded to a category five storm at 8 a.m. Sunday. On Saturday, all of South Carolina and part of North Carolina were added to the “probable path” of the storm’s center.

Dorian's tropical storm winds could reach South Carolina by 8 p.m. Tuesday and North Carolina by 8 a.m. Wednesday, the hurricane center said. Wind speeds of 39 mph to 73 mph in the North Carolina Piedmont are possible.

The storm’s slow pace could bring days of heavy wind and rain to the East Coast, with the Carolinas possibly getting 5 to 10 inches of rain and some areas as much as 15 inches.

Forecasters said Dorian is expected to continue slowly moving west for about 48 hours before gradually picking up speed as it turns to the north and northeast, but they also said it’s hard to know when it will turn.

One hurricane center spokesman told the New York Times that due to Hurricane Dorian’s characteristics, it “may move erratically” once it hits the mainland.

The hurricane center called the storm “catastrophic” and the strongest in modern records to hit the northwestern Bahamas. The eye of the storm was over Great Abaco at 5 p.m. Sunday, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 185 mph and gusts a record 220 mph.

States of emergency

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina Sunday and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster did so Saturday. This mobilizes state resources to address the storm and allowing state and local governments to seek federal aid. Cooper urged residents to prepare themselves for Dorian’s potential impacts.

On Sunday, McMaster ordered mandatory evacuations starting at noon Monday, impacting about 830,000 people in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Horry and Jasper counties.

Schools and government buildings in those counties will be closed Tuesday. Officials are reversing the flow of traffic on major highways to assist evacuations.

The Associated Press said more than 600 U.S. flights on Monday have been canceled. Nearly half were routes arriving or departing from Florida airports. Cancellations also impacted North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and other states. About 336 Sunday flights alone were canceled.

Samaritan’s Purse readies

Samaritan’s Purse, with its North American disaster relief headquarters in North Wilkesboro, reported that it is busy preparing to respond on two fronts. “Work is underway to bring help soon to the Bahamas, and U.S. disaster relief personnel are positioned to respond quickly after the storm’s assault on the continental U.S.”

Samaritan’s Purse staff and volunteer teams will help clear debris and downed trees, put tarps on roofs and clean out flooded U.S. homes once given access to damaged areas. Disaster relief units (stocked tractor trailers), supply trailers and heavy equipment are on standby.

Samaritan’s Purse has been working for almost a year in the Florida Panhandle to help residents there recover from Hurricane Michael’s destruction in October 2018, with work now focused on repairing and rebuilding homes.

 “Samaritan’s Purse is ready to help families in the path of Hurricane Dorian recover from the storm,” said Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse president. “Please join me in praying for everyone in the hurricane’s path.”

Details on donating funds to assist with the nondenominational evangelical Christian organization’s disaster relief efforts are at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/about-us.

Lowe’s sending extra supplies

Lowe’s Companies Inc. said it is working to get extra emergency supplies to where it appears they will be needed in the Southeast. As of Sunday, Lowe’s had sent more than 3,000 truckloads of emergency supplies, including generators, gas cans, flashlights and much more.

Based on changes in the storm track, Lowe’s redirected 40 truckloads of generators to stores along the East Coast. Store 603 in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., received and staged the extra generators.

The Lowe’s Emergency Command Center in Wilkesboro was activated Thursday, but early last week a core team was working to make sure emergency supplies were moving to be in the right place at the right time.

Lowe’s Command Center has response plans centered around four main phases – planning, readiness, response and recovery.

Lowe’s said it prepares to respond before storms are identified. A core Lowe’s team focuses year-round on disaster response and how to better prepare for and respond to meet needs of customers, associates and communities during those times.

Lowe’s employees at the company’s headquarters in Mooresville filled 20,000 buckets of essential cleaning supplies over the summer to prepare for hurricane season.

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