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Isaias Near Hurricane Headed for SC, NC08/03 06:22

   Isaias was forecast to become a hurricane Monday as it neared landfall in 
the Carolinas after bands of heavy rain from the tropical storm lashed 
Florida's east coast.

   VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Isaias was forecast to become a hurricane Monday as 
it neared landfall in the Carolinas after bands of heavy rain from the tropical 
storm lashed Florida's east coast.

   The U.S. National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning from South 
Santee River, South Carolina, to Surf City, North Carolina, in its 5 a.m. 
advisory. Tropical Storm Isaias had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph) 
and was expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of 74 
mph (119 kph) or more.

   "We are forecasting it to become a hurricane before it reaches the coast 
this evening," senior hurricane specialist Daniel Brown said. "It's forecast to 
produce a dangerous storm surge, of 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters) in portions 
of North and South Carolina."

   Isaias --- pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs --- could bring heavy rains, too --- up 
to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in spots as it moves up the coast, Brown said 
---and "all those rains could produce flash flooding across portions of eastern 
Carolinas and mid-Atlantic, and even in the northeast U.S."

   Forecasters said Isaias was still centered east of Jacksonville, Florida, 
and 280 miles (455 kilometers) south-southwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 
but was expected to speed up Monday as it moved north.

   Over the weekend, Isaias brought heavy rain and flooding to Florida as 
officials kept a close eye on the storm while dealing with surging cases of the 
coronavirus.

   The storm had weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Saturday 
afternoon, and its most damaging winds remained offshore.

   "Don't be fooled by the downgrade," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned at a 
news conference after the storm spent hours roughing up the Bahamas. DeSantis 
said that with Florida entering the season's most active time for hurricanes, 
residents should have a week's supply of water, food and medicine on hand.

   Upper-level winds later sapped much of the storm's strength, said Stacy 
Stewart, senior hurricane specialist at the hurricane center in Miami.

   "We were expecting a hurricane to develop and it didn't," Stewart said 
Sunday. "It's a tale of two storms. If you live on the west side of the storm, 
you didn't get much. If you live east of the storm, there's a lot of nasty 
weather there."

   Isaias caused destruction and two deaths as 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 floods that 
swept away one woman, whose body was recovered Saturday.

   Isaias then snapped trees and knocked out power as it blew through the 
Bahamas on Saturday. 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 in September 2019.

   Authorities closed Florida beaches, parks and virus testing sites, lashing 
signs to palm trees so they wouldn't blow away. Officials also adapted their 
shelter policies to the pandemic, providing spaces where people could stay 
safely apart from each other to prevent the spread of the virus.

   In Palm Beach County, about 150 people were in shelters, and they were 
wearing masks, 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.

   In Indian River County, north of West Palm Beach, Florida, emergency 
shelters were clearing out Sunday after Isaias was downgraded to a tropical 
storm.

   Officials told TCPalm newspapers that 38 people registered at three schools 
used as shelters. Those areas now must be cleaned to ensure no traces of the 
coronavirus remain as teachers and staff report Monday to prepare for the 
upcoming school year.

   No one checked in with COVID-19 symptoms. Temperature checks were done at 
the door, officials said, and isolation rooms were designated in case anyone 
came in with symptoms.

   The storm did not affect the successful return of two astronauts aboard the 
SpaceX Dragon capsule, which splashed down into calm waters in the Gulf of 
Mexico off the coast of Pensacola. Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode 
the capsule back to Earth less than a day after departing the International 
Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida.

 
 
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