As Hurricane Dorian continued to pick up strength, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis issued an evacuation order for the Abacos and parts of Grand Bahama, warning residents in those areas not to be “foolish” as the potentially life-threatening storm bears down.
“Government has decided to institute an emergency evacuation for residents from the northern cays of Abaco to mainland Abaco,” Dr. Minnis said during a press conference at police headquarters a short while ago.
“We are also urging residents from West End, East End, Sweetings Cay and Waters Cay to move to the interior of Grand Bahama as quickly as possible.
“For those residents of Grand Bahama and Abaco who wish to leave these islands, flights are being increased. I am appealing to residents who are able to do so financially to seek shelter among family members and other suitable accommodations for their safety.
“As I speak, emergency evacuations are being conducted.
“Evacuation orders: Sweeting’s Cay, you are to evacuate. Water Cay, you too are to evacuate. Gold Rock Creek North and South, evacuate. Freetown, you are to evacuate.
“Pelican Point, you are urged to evacuate. Rocky Creek, you too are urged to evacuate. McClean’s Town, Grand Cay, Deep Water Cay, Queen’s Cove are all encouraged to evacuate.
“Gambier Point, Bevan’s Town, High Rock, Smith’s Town, Mather Town are to be on alert and are to move inland. In West Grand Bahama, the settlements of West End, Bottle Bay and Bahama Beach are urged to evacuate.
“Deadman’s Reef, Homes Rock, Seagrape, Jones Town, Russell Town, Martin Town, Pinedale and Hanna Hill are urged to move inland.
“Let me be extremely clear, those who refuse to evacuate, place themselves in great danger from this very powerful and potentially life-threatening hurricane.”
Islands in the northwestern Bahamas are now under hurricane watch, which means that hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
Hurricane Dorian has grown into a category 3 storm, packing winds up to 115 mph, and is expected to strengthen into a category 4 storm, packing winds up to 135 mph or more, by the time it nears Grand Bahama and Abaco, according to Deputy Director of Meteorology Jeffrey Simmons.
Based on current projections, those islands are expected to begin to feel the effects of the storm as early as Saturday.
The system isn’t expected to move away from The Bahamas until Monday.
Dr. Minnis said it is incumbent upon residents to follow the evacuation order.
“Emergency personnel and assistance will be unavailable during the immediate impact of the hurricane for those in the projected path who do not evacuate,” he said.
“Let me again make the strongest plea possible to the residents of north and central Abaco and East End, Grand Bahama to evacuate their respective areas.
“Do not put your life and those of your loved ones at unnecessary risk.
“I urge you, do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane. The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life or other serious physical harm.”