Aug 02, 2020
Isaias nears virus-hit Florida after lashing the Bahamas
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A person looks out as waves kicked up by the Tropical Storm Isaias crash along the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier on August 2, 2020 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. The storm is brushing along the east coast of Florida and tropical storm conditions will extend northward along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Early bands of heavy rain from Isaias lashed Florida's east coast before dawn Sunday as authorities warily eyed the approaching storm, which threatened to snarl efforts to quell surging cases of the coronavirus across the region.
Isaias weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm late Saturday afternoon, but was still expected to bring heavy rain and flooding as it barrels toward Florida.
"Don't be fooled by the downgrade," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned during a news conference on Saturday after the storm spent hours roughing up the Bahamas.
Florida authorities closed beaches, parks and virus testing sites, lashing signs to palm trees so they wouldn't blow away. The governor said the state is anticipating power outages and asked residents to have a week's supply of water, food and medicine on hand. Officials wrestled with how to prepare shelters where people can seek refuge from the storm if necessary, while safely social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.
In Palm Beach County, about 150 people were in shelters, said emergency management spokeswoman Lisa De La Rionda. The county has a voluntary evacuation order for those living in mobile or manufactured homes, or those who feel their home can't withstand winds.
"We don't anticipate many more evacuations," she said, adding that the evacuees are physically distant from each other and are wearing masks, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Isaias is piling another burden on communities already hard-hit by other storms and sickness.
The storm's maximum sustained winds declined steadily throughout Saturday, and were at 65 mph (100 kph) by Sunday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 8 a.m. EDT. The storm's center was located 40 miles (70 kilometers) east-southeast of West Palm Beach.
The center of the storm was forecast to approach the southeast coast of Florida early Sunday morning, then travel up the state's east coast throughout the day. Little change was expected in the storm's strength over the next few days, forecasters said.
Heavy rain, flooding and high winds could batter much of the East Coast this week as the system is forecast to track up or just off the Atlantic seaboard.
Despite the approaching storm, NASA says the return of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX capsule is still on track for Sunday afternoon. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are preparing to make the first splashdown return in 45 years, after two months docked at the International Space Station. They are aiming for the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida Panhandle, and flight controllers are keeping close watch on the storm.
Isaias has already been destructive in the Caribbean: On Thursday, before it became a hurricane, it uprooted trees, destroyed crops and homes and caused widespread flooding and small landslides in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. One man died in the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, the National Guard rescued at least 35 people from floodwaters that swept away one woman, whose body was recovered Saturday.
Isaias snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the Bahamas on Saturday and churned toward the Florida coast.
As the storm moves now toward the southeast coast of Florida, a tropical storm warning is in effect from Hallandale Beach, Florida, to South Santee River, South Carolina, and for Florida's Lake Okeechobee. A storm surge watch is in effect for Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach, and from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Coronavirus cases have surged in Florida in recent weeks, and the added menace of a storm ratcheted up the anxiety. State-run virus testing sites are closing in areas where the storm might hit because the sites are outdoor tents, which could topple in high winds.
Natalie Betancur, stocking up at a grocery in Palm Beach Gardens, said that the storm itself doesn't cause her a great amount of concern.
"The hurricane is not that serious, but I feel that the public is really panicking because it's a hurricane and we're in the middle of a pandemic," she said.
Meanwhile, officials in the Bahamas opened shelters for people in Abaco island to help those who have been living in temporary structures since Dorian devastated the area, killing at least 70 people.
- Natural disasters
News Source: CNBC
Tags: the bahamas
Officials found the body of a 5-year-old girl who went missing as Isaias pounded Northeast
(CNN)The body of 5-year-old Eliza Talal was found Wednesday after she went missing from her Pennsylvania home at the height of the storm a day earlier, Towamencin Township Police Chief Tim Dickinson said.Towamencin Township, in the southeastern part of the state, felt the powerful effects of Isaias as the storm barreled through the East Coast earlier this week. In its wake, the storm left heavy flooding, damage and widespread power outages, prompting at least two governors to declare states of emergency. On Thursday morning, nearly two million people were still without power across the Northeast, according to poweroutage.us.Eliza, who the chief said had autism and was reportedly nonverbal, was last seen around noon on Tuesday before she walked away from her home, which backs into a creek, the chief said.