A monster hurricane has hit the Caribbean with a vengeance and is bearing down on Florida’s east coast, and Middle Tennesseans already are starting to help.
With sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph, fierce Category 5 Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northwestern Bahamas in the Caribbean late Sunday morning and made landfall on the Grand Bahama Island at 11 p.m.
“Dorian remains an incredibly powerful hurricane,” the Hurricane Center wrote.
To connect the outpouring of generosity to those impacted by disaster, The Music City Way Fund has been established by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to help in what will be an extensive, ongoing relief effort.
Grants from this disaster relief fund will be made to area nonprofits providing assistance both immediate and long term, and 100% of donations made will go directly toward recovery efforts.
To donate to The Music City Way Fund, go to www.cfmt.org.
Meanwhile, first-responders from Middle Tennessee are leaving for the east coast to help assist with Hurricane Dorian, WKRN.com reported on Monday.
The Nashville Fire Department’s Tennessee strike team is in Gainesville, Florida, waiting for Hurricane Dorian and to learn how they can help, the TV station reported. Three firefighters from the Ashland City Fire Department’s Swift Water team also are on their way to Florida, and were due to meet up with Dickson City firefighters to form a six-person team to help with Hurricane Dorian.
Their team is part of 40 firefighters from Tennessee who left Monday to head to Florida, WKRN reported.
Dorian would continue to lash the islands for much of Monday, The New York Times reported. Storm surges of as much as 18 to 23 feet were possible, enough to swamp many low-lying areas, and as much as 30 inches of rain could fall in some locations before the storm passes.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and its The Music City Way Fund supports affected communities, victims and their ongoing needs.
“At The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, we believe that if we can help we should help — and so for the past 28 years we have provided ways to make giving to disaster response easy for both the donor and the recipients,” said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation.
Lehman continued: “In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, we are doing just that. We are making sure that people can give comfortably, conveniently and with confidence that 100% of the money gets to the nonprofits in the affected area. We’ve been there … we know firsthand that the recovery from Dorian will be long, difficult and complex. … We want to help.”
The hurricane center warned that no one should venture outdoors into the eye of the storm.
“The hurricane will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast … through Wednesday evening,” the hurricane center said.
Hurricane and storm surge watches on the coast were extended Sunday night to reach all the way north to the Florida-Georgia border, The Times reported. Storm surge along the Florida coast could reach 4 to 7 feet in places, forecasters said.
The hurricane center said on Sunday that there were wind gusts exceeding 220 miles an hour — three times the wind speed to qualify as a hurricane. Officials said the storm was the strongest on record in the Bahamas and one of the most intense in the Atlantic in the last century. Hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles outward from the center of the storm, the center said, with tropical storm-force winds as much as 140 miles outward.
Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia and Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina each announced mandatory evacuations for certain coastal areas of their states, that took effect Monday.
If Dorian strikes Florida’s east coast as a Category 4, it would be the strongest to make landfall there since Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but will be moving at a much slower pace.
If it makes landfall in Florida, it would be the fourth hurricane to do so since 2016, following Hermine (2016), Irma (2017) and Michael (2018).
Nashville and Middle Tennessee understand so well the trauma of storm-related natural disasters. In 2010, the Tennessee Flood was caused after 13.57 inches of rainfall over 36 hours.