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Officials make final plea ahead of Nicole 

Authorities this evening made a final appeal for Abaco and Grand Bahama residents to make their final preparations and to evacuate if necessary as Tropical Storm Nicole approached those islands.

“As we speak, the storm is now on a course heading west with winds of up to 60 miles per hour (mph) and is [moving] at a speed of up to 10 mph,” National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Captain Stephen Russell said during a press conference shortly before 5 p.m.

“So, it is definitely on a projected path to impact islands in the northwestern Bahamas.”

Nicole, which is expected to strengthen to a category one hurricane as it approaches Abaco, is forecast to impact both islands in a matter of hours.

“As it approaches Treasure Cay and northern Abaco, you will see the storm strengthen a bit just to the north of the eye,” Chief Meteorological Officer Geoffrey Greene said.

“As it crosses north Abaco, you’re going to have a category one affecting Abaco and moving into the eastern Grand Bahama area just to the north of the island.”

He said the storm is forecast to intensify by early Wednesday morning as it crosses north Abaco.

“We expect that to be a category one storm with at least 75 mph winds,” Greene said.

“So, again the areas of north and central Abaco and the whole of Grand Bahama, they would [experience] the stronger winds of the storm, whereas the other islands will experience more of the tropical storm force winds of 39 mph to 57 mph or less.

Evacuations

Russell said 36 of 46 residents in Sweeting’s Cay have adhered to the government’s warning to evacuate.

Additionally, he said 25 workers on Guana Cay have also evacuated.

Russell added that roughly 70 percent of the mobile home residents in Marsh Harbour have sought shelter.

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Myles LaRoda called on the remaining residents to evacuate as well.

“In the next few hours it could get worse,” he said. “We are asking, we are begging. We are pleading. We don’t want to put our responders [at risk].”

Russell said it is important that residents seek shelter soon as he has received a report of rising water levels near the clinic in Cooper’s Town, Abaco.

“With the spring tide and the eventual storm passing that way, the water levels can present a challenge to persons trying to leave at the last minute,” Russell said.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini and the Berry Islands. Shelters have been activated on all of the islands, authorities.

The storm surge could raise water levels by as much as four to six feet along the immediate coast in the northwestern Bahamas, according to the Department of Meteorology.

It is expected to produce two to four inches of rainfall.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera.

 Greene said those islands will likely not experience tropical storm force winds. However, he noted that things could change.

“They may get gusts to tropical storm force winds,” Greene added.

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Krystel Brown

Krystel covers breaking news for The Nassau Guardian. Krystel also manages The Guardian’s social media pages. She joined The Nassau Guardian in 2007 as a staff reporter, covering national news. She was promoted to online editor in May 2017. Education: Benedict College, BA in Mass Communications

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