United States President Donald Trump canceled a visit to Poland Thursday while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis extended a state of emergency to the whole state of Florida as a result of Hurricane Dorian’s strengthening over the past 36 hours.
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“It’s something very important for me to be here. The storm looks like it could be a very, very big one indeed,” Trump said, announcing he canceled his trip and will send Vice-President Mike Pence in his place in order to stay in the country and “ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm.”
The hurricane is expected to intensify and become a dangerous Category 4 storm by the weekend, before hitting the state’s Atlantic coast with strong rains and winds.
State authorities have called off some commercial flights, planned precautionary measures at a rocket launch sites along the Space Coast and are prepared to give out sand to residents to be used in sandbags ahead of the storm’s arrival.
Spurred on by warm late-summer waters, Dorian is predicted to pack winds reaching 209 kph in 72 hours, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
That would make Dorian, currently a Category 1 storm, a "catastrophic" Category 4 storm, the second-strongest on the Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity.
The center said Category 4 storms are capable of causing “catastrophic damage” to even well-built homes. It said in such storms, “Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed.”
The hurricane is likely to make landfall on Florida’s eastern coast on Monday before lingering over central Florida Tuesday but tropical-storm-force winds from Dorian could begin in parts of Florida as early as Saturday evening, the hurricane center warned.
“All residents, especially those along the east coast, need to be prepared for possible impacts,” the state’s governor said in a statement. “As it increases strength, this storm has the potential to severely damage homes, businesses, and buildings, which is why all Floridians should remain vigilant. Do not wait until it is too late to make a plan,” warned the state's leader.
“We’re worried. This is not looking good for us. We woke up a lot more scared than we went to bed last night, and the news is not getting any better,” said Angela Johnson, 39, bar manager at Coconuts On The Beach, a Cocoa Beach restaurant on the town’s surfing beach.