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Fort Pierce Residents Evacuate Ahead Of Hurricane Dorian

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but continues to pummel the Bahamas with huge winds and relentless rain. And it is stalled, essentially parked, over the Bahamas. According to the latest from the National Hurricane Center, though, Dorian is expected to crawl west toward Florida's southeast coast over coming days, which is where we find Linda Hudson. She is the mayor of Fort Pierce, Fla.

Mayor Hudson, thank you so much for being with us.

LINDA HUDSON: Thank you.

MARTIN: I know it's early. But can you tell us what it looks like there this morning? Are there any signs of an imminent storm?

HUDSON: There are wind gusts. And there are - and the streets are empty. That's a good thing because our police and our emergency operations center is cautioning everybody to stay inside and to expect the winds to increase. And no rain - at least where I am - but - and we have no power outages. We are all now hunkered down and expect to stay in for the next 12 to 24 hours until we hear the all-clear. We have shelters in place. We have 700 people in shelters. And we have our bridges closed, so nobody can get on the island or off the island as of right now.

MARTIN: Do you have - I mean, we should say that Fort Pierce is in St. Lucie County, which is one of nine counties in Florida under mandatory evacuation order. Do you know how many people got out and heeded that order?

HUDSON: I do not. And the reason is because we had so much advance notice and a three-day holiday weekend, I think they started leaving on Friday. They started leaving on their own and didn't wait for the mandatory evacuation. So I would say that quite a few people left. And the ones that didn't are well-prepared because we've had a lot of lead-up on this storm.

MARTIN: Right. You had a lot of lead-up because this storm is so slow-moving. How has that - has it made preparations more complicated? What are your biggest concerns?

HUDSON: The complication is that people are not going to pay attention because it's been going on so long and they've been waiting so long.

MARTIN: Yeah.

HUDSON: And so they're - you know, people get cabin fever. So - and everybody's watching what happened at the Bahamas. And we have a very strong tie with Bahamas. We're very close to them. And we have a lot of people here who are - have Bahamian ancestry and family there and people who have houses there. So everybody's watching this storm because of the storm but also because of our ties with the Bahamas.

MARTIN: So not only are you just getting ready for what the storm - what kind of havoc it may wreak there, there's also an emotional component as many people worry about their loved ones, no doubt.

HUDSON: Very much so. And one of the things that's heartening is these people here are saying, you know, as soon as Dorian is gone and we can pull ourselves together, we need to help the Bahamas. That's a great, great feeling.

MARTIN: The mayor of Fort Pierce, Fla., Linda Hudson - thank you so much, and stay safe. We'll be thinking of you.

HUDSON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.