FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) — The sounds of hammers banging into plywood and cash registers dinging echoed across the Bahamas on Friday as the archipelago that lies just southeast of Florida rushed to prepare for Hurricane Dorian, which threatened to turn into a powerful Category 4 storm.
The storm is expected to approach the northwest Bahamas on Saturday and then move over or near that region on Sunday.
“I’m really worried,” said Kevin Adderley, a 48-year-old business owner who was securing his mechanic shop in the city of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. “I’m going to bunker down home with my kids.”
At 11 a.m. EDT on Friday, Dorian was located 480 miles (770 kilometers) east of the northwest Bahamas and about 660 miles (1,060 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach in Florida. It had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).
A hurricane watch was in effect for northwestern Bahamas, where long lines formed at gas stations and grocery stores on Friday. In Grand Bahama Island, supplies like canned food and bottled water were quickly disappearing.
“The food store is very packed,” said 47-year-old Gina Davis as she pushed her grocery cart through the aisle. “I’m very concerned because it’s going to be a Category 4 storm. … We pray to God that it don’t do us bad.”
Government officials said Prime Minister Hubert Minnis was scheduled to address Bahamians at noon and urge people to take necessary precautions.
Stephen Russell, director of the island’s National Emergency Management Agency, said major storms have hit the Bahamas for three consecutive years: Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017, causing an estimated $80 million in damage.
“We are a resilient nation,” he said in a statement.
Dánica Coto contributed to this report from San Juan, Puerto Rico