How Hurricane Dorian is affecting Bahamas and US travelers

After two days, CNN has reached the Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport and found it completely ravaged after Hurricane Dorian. It is the only airport on the island. CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports.

Posted: Sep 5, 2019 2:30 AM
Updated: Sep 5, 2019 2:30 AM

Hurricane Dorian has travelers scrambling to stay out of harm's way and reroute plans in affected areas.

While devastating for residents in the storm's path, the hurricane also spells trouble for travelers in damaged or threatened areas of the Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Devastation in The Abacos and Grand Bahama

Dorian lashed the northern Bahamas for two days, causing catastrophic damage in The Abacos and Grand Bahama.

"There are no words to convey the grief we feel for our fellow Bahamians in The Abacos and Grand Bahama," said Dionisio D'Aguilar, Bahamas minister of tourism and aviation, in a statement on Wednesday.

Hotels in The Abacos and Grand Bahama Island are closed, according to the tourism ministry.

Also closed: Grand Bahama International Airport, Grand Bahama Island's Freeport Harbour and Leonard Thompson International Airport (MHH) in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

"Now is the time to come together for our brothers and sisters in need and help our country get back on its feet," D'Aguilar said, highlighting www.bahamas.com/relief, a website for verified ways to provide support.

Most of The Bahamas' other islands are open for business.

"We also implore travelers to continue visiting the Bahamian islands that were not impacted by Hurricane Dorian as this will help our people tremendously," D'Aguilar said.

Nassau, other islands open for business

The Bahamas capital of Nassau and neighboring Paradise Island are receiving visitors and hotels remain open.

Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau is open, but visitors should check with their airlines on flight status. Nassau ports are also open and operational, although cruise line schedules may change.

Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Andros are also welcoming visitors, according to the tourism ministry.

Islands in the southeastern and central Bahamas were largely unaffected, including The Exumas, Cat Island, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Long Island, Acklins/Crooked Island, Ragged Island, Mayaguana and Inagua.

Transport and travel

Airlines including Delta, American Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, Spirit, United and Frontier are offering travelers the option to change or delay flight bookings within affected areas, with certain terms and conditions applying.

Aviation tracking website FlightAware.com keeps track of the number of day-of and next-day flight disruptions. Passengers with itineraries that may be affected should check airline policies online and be sure to check flight status before heading to the airport.

Orlando International Airport resumed service at noon Wednesday after suspending operations as the storm advanced. It is still up to individual airlines whether to resume flights based on staffing and equipment needs, so passengers are advised to double-check their reservations.

Airports in Daytona Beach and Melbourne, Florida, are expected to stay closed until Thursday.

Flights in Brunswick, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, have also been suspended.

Cruise ships changing schedules

Cruise ship itineraries have also been affected.

Carnival Cruise Line has adjusted itineraries for numerous ships leaving out of Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Miami and Charleston. A full list on the cruise line's website is updated regularly.

CocoCay Island, owned by Royal Caribbean, is closed. It originally planned to reopen on Wednesday, but that's now been delayed and the hope is it'll be open by Saturday. Royal Caribbean also has routine operational updates online.

Royal Caribbean says it is "closely monitoring" Dorian, shortening and extending some ship itineraries where necessary, although the company said that "being onboard a ship is one of safest places to be during a storm."

For non-cruise aficionados, that might seem hard to believe, but Brian Major, executive editor for Caribbean and Latin America at US content company travAlliancemedia, tells CNN Travel that's because cruise ships will always amend their itineraries to avoid sailing into a storm and ensuring the safety of passengers.

"The ships are very astute in making sure they avoid those storms," says Major. "It will impact some folks' vacations, which is the unfortunate part of it. But it's better than sailing towards a hurricane."

Major says cruisers should stay in contact with their cruise line and contact their travel agent if they think they won't be able to get to the port or if they're worried about port closures.

"These situations always bring to light the importance of travel insurance," he adds.

Accommodation

Many hotels in the hurricane's path have been boarded up and travelers have been evacuated to temporary shelters.

Marriott International will "continue to monitor the path of Hurricane Dorian, and our hotels in the predicted path have implemented storm preparation protocols," the hotel announced in a statement.

Hilton issued a similarly worded statement, encouraging guests to call 1-800-HILTONS (800-774-1500) for up-to-date information on individual hotels.

Some hotels have posted plans on websites or pinned to their social media pages detailing when and if they're closing -- including the swanky The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort south of Charleston, which details plans to close Monday and reassess its status on Thursday.

Other hotels outside the hurricane's path are operating as emergency shelters. Evacuees who can get to Statesboro, Georgia, can check out VisitStatesboro.org for information on hotel spaces available there.

Relief efforts

The Atlantis Bahamas hotel said on Twitter on Tuesday that it's working with chef Jose Andres, his nonprofit World Central Kitchen and the Bahamas Red Cross to provide relief to residents impacted by Dorian. Andres' organization uses hotel kitchens and other venues to serve food to those in need.

There will likely be further relief needed over the coming weeks: the American Red Cross says 19 million people live in areas across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina that could be lashed by the storm.

Walt Disney Company, led by Disney Cruise Line, announced plans Tuesday to donate $1 million to relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean has also pledged $1 million to relief efforts.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 662750

Reported Deaths: 12623
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Vanderburgh21261379
Tippecanoe20050203
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Warrick7422151
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Floyd7217170
Wayne6640192
Grant6432157
Boone610088
Morgan6096125
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Cass545099
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Henry542593
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Lawrence4186113
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 968874

Reported Deaths: 17346
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1119871212
Cuyahoga957051750
Hamilton73287974
Montgomery47254892
Summit40184957
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Lucas35279767
Stark29356843
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Mahoning19444544
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Delaware16437136
Licking14967200
Fairfield14506160
Trumbull14315465
Greene13568214
Medina13370219
Clark12246336
Wood11506194
Portage11008160
Allen10768235
Richland10278206
Miami10011190
Muskingum8169131
Columbiana8120183
Pickaway8041104
Tuscarawas8029236
Marion7982137
Wayne7857219
Erie6872184
Ross6130137
Geauga6057129
Hancock5981114
Ashtabula5959147
Scioto5933104
Lawrence524974
Union512352
Darke5026124
Belmont491889
Huron4797118
Jefferson4790108
Sandusky476196
Seneca4671103
Athens463733
Washington462287
Mercer4582101
Auglaize455499
Shelby440970
Knox401686
Putnam3986101
Madison392147
Ashland379195
Fulton378664
Defiance3714102
Brown369242
Crawford357496
Logan354060
Preble352671
Clinton340064
Highland327756
Ottawa323267
Williams301878
Jackson289356
Champaign286646
Guernsey286234
Fayette268144
Perry267744
Morrow259225
Henry245765
Hardin244457
Holmes2430104
Coshocton235547
Van Wert229249
Gallia221846
Adams216032
Pike215228
Wyandot209353
Hocking194049
Carroll180828
Paulding160023
Meigs135037
Noble128742
Monroe116436
Morgan100834
Harrison100433
Vinton76715
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