Evacuations are beginning in Volusia and Flagler counties on Monday as emergency officials try to get the two-county area prepared for whatever Hurricane Dorian brings this way.
Dorian — the second strongest storm on record since 1950 — threatens to rake Florida’s east coast with devastating winds, powerful storm surge and waves above 20 feet and push the St. Johns River higher.
A mandatory evacuation order for Volusia County residents starts at 10 a.m. It includes residents on the barrier islands and in low-lying areas and mobile home parks across the county. At the same time, the county will begin opening its shelters. Flagler County has announced a similar evacuation and will open two shades.
Dorian is pummeling the Bahamas, drifting over Grand Bahama Monday morning, and maintains devastating sustained winds of 165 mph and gusts to 200 mph.
Both Flagler County and Coastal Volusia County are under a hurricane watch, and a storm surge watch, meaning hurricane-force winds and a storm surge are possible within 48 hours. Even though Dorian’s top winds had decreased slightly on Sunday — down to 165 mph by Monday morning — and would likely be reduced to Category 3 strength or lower by the time it draws close to Florida, it still could have devastating impacts.
Flagler County has opened a special needs shelter at Rymfire Elementary and general accommodation.
Residents should take their essentials to the shelters, including medicines. Although many accommodations are pet-friendly, the animals should be crated. As Volusia County’s emergency management director Jim Judge put it: accommodations are “a lifeboat, not the Love Boat.”