Hurricane Dorian weakens to Category 2 storm

FREEPORT, Bahamas — Hurricane Dorian weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to batter the Bahamas with life-threatening storm surge.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dorian’s maximum sustained winds decreased Tuesday morning to near 110 mph. But it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days.

Dorian is centered about 45 miles north of Freeport in the Bahamas and is moving northwest near 2 mph.

The National Hurricane center said Dorian is expected to move “dangerously close” to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move north to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday night and Thursday.

Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands said Dorian devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.

He said the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.

Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies.

He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven’t received dialysis since Friday.

Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph, a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. The storm then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.

United Nations officials estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food after the devastation left by Dorian.

A spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs.

Herve Verhoosel says preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people in Grand Bahama island might need food, along with another 14,500 in the neighboring Abaco islands.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water.

Matthew Cochrane said about 45% of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.

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