VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WWBT/AP) - Much of southeastern Virginia is shutting down as Hurricane Dorian churns up the Atlantic Coast.
Virginia Beach is on high alert as it braces for what could be heavy rain and potentially dangerous storm surge. Neighbors and visitors in the Sandbridge community were given a mandatory evacuation order Thursday. The strip of land is home to beach houses that sit along the Atlantic Coast near the North Carolina border.
Leaders in Virginia Beach are taking no chances, especially after seeing the damage Dorian has already caused elsewhere.
"Disappointed by an act of God,” Carl Broadnax said as he packed up his car.
Dorian is creating a disaster for Broadnax and his wife, Stephanie. They traveled to Sandbridge from Connecticut to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Friends came too. "As you see, everyone is gone,” he said standing outside of the empty beach home. It’s all because of the storm.
"We were told this afternoon about 1 o’clock that we have to pack up and leave,” Broadnax said.
While some have decided to head out, others have decided to head in.
"It’s kind of a family tradition to come out here during a storm,” Jennifer Baker said standing next to her husband and children on the beach.
The Baker family didn’t travel far. They live in the Hampton Roads area and raced to the very area people are being told to evacuate.
"You come out here on a typical day, it’s flat, and when you know the storm is coming, you see and notice a change that happens with the ocean and the waves,” Anthony Baker said.
Mom and dad love it, and so do the kids. Their 8-year-old can tell you her favorite part. "Building sand castles,” Selah Baker said.
City officials, however, are preparing for the worst. Thursday, they issued a voluntary evacuation for people who live in portions of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Chesapeake - mainly because of the risk of flooding and storm surge. Portsmouth even opened up shelter at Norcom High School for those seeking higher ground.
The low-lying region is prone to flooding without much rain. Dorian is expected to bring heavy rains and 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1 meter) of storm surge Friday.
Schools and universities canceled Friday classes throughout much of the region. Buses, light rail and ferries will stop running. Military bases will operate with only mission-essential personnel.
Other cities in the Hampton Roads area are also opening up shelters. Those who evacuate are being encouraged to take three days’ worth of clothing and supplies.
The Richmond area could see heavy rain and wind later Thursday and Friday morning as the storm churns north.
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