Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Residents of the Bahamas were bracing for Hurricane Dorian's arrival Sunday morning as people around 200 miles west along the entire Florida east coast were anxiously watching the storm's projected path.
Residents farther up the Atlantic Coast -- from Georgia to the Carolina -- also became uneasy as the storm made a slight northerly turn Friday and could be headed there Wednesday or Thursday after approaching Florida sometime Tuesday.
The hurricane, which reached Category 4 on Friday and became stronger with maximum sustained wind gusts around 150 mph Saturday, is interfering with Labor Day weekend plans. Visitors and residents are heading out of the Florida instead of enjoying time in the Sunshine State.
And that applies to the Bahamas, which also relies on tourism.
As early as 4 or 5 a.m. Sunday, Dorian is expected to approach the more than 700 mainly low-lying islands in the Bahamas, including the island chain of Abaco and the northernmost island of Grand Bahama.
"Do not be foolish and try to brave out this hurricane," Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said during a news conference Friday. "The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life."
About 73,000 residents could be impacted, he said
Basil Dean, deputy director of Bahamas Department of Meteorology, told CNN on Saturday the islands are bracing "for the arrival of rain and we are just continuing to urge those who may still be near those coastal areas to move inland to a safer place."
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew destroyed Grand Bahama.
Dorian is headed to the Bahamas, but on Friday, the forecast track shifted north and Florida is on the edge for making landfall. But the state remains in the "cone of uncertainty" as life-threatening storm conditions of hurricane force winds, storm surge and flash flooding remain.
On Saturday afternoon, a tropical storm watch was issued from Deerfield Beach in Broward County to Sebastian Inlet just north of Vero Beach in Indian River County.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged the 21.3 million residents not to let their guard down.
"I would remind people as you're looking at these forecasts, a bump in one direction or the other can have really significant ramifications," DeSantis said during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center on Saturday morning in Tallahassee. "If it bumps further east, that obviously is positive; if it bumps a little west, then you're looking at really, really significant impacts. So don't make any assumptions, remain vigilant and be prepared."
DeSantis said the revised track means emergency response teams can be focused toward the east coast instead of throughout the state.
"Obviously we're going to have a busy day today," Ashley Davis, state Emergency Response Team operations chief, told emergency officials Saturday. "I just don't want to see happy feet just yet. We've got to prepare for the worst."
President Donald Trump, who canceled his trip to Poland because of the impending storm, on Friday night warned residents in a post on Twitter that "this is an extremely dangerous storm, please prepare and be safe!"
He said: "I am monitoring Hurricane Dorian and receiving frequent briefings and updates. It is important to heed the directions of your State and Local Officials."
Trump, who spent the night at Camp David in Maryland, plans to attend a hurricane briefing Sunday at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.
He also retweeted storm preparedness tips from FEMA, American Red Cross and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
"We're hoping that it maybe makes a right and goes up north, but that's about a 5 percent chance," Trump told reporters Friday before departing Marine One from the White House. "It's not looking good. And it's one of the biggest hurricanes we've seen in a long time. A long time. So it could be very devastating."
On Saturday, Trump noted Dorian's new path.
"Looking like our great South Carolina could get hit MUCH harder than first thought," Trump tweeted. " Georgia and North Carolina also. It's moving around and very hard to predict, except that it is one of the biggest and strongest (and really wide) that we have seen in decades. Be safe!"
On Friday, Trump declared a state state of emergency in Florida upon a recommendation from Florida's governor. The governors of South Carolina and Georgia later declared a state of emergency in their states.
DeSantis, who was elected governor last November, has been traveling around the state meeting with county and state officials during briefings.
He has authorized the activation of 2,500 Florida National Guard troops, with an additional 1,500 awaiting orders.
On the governor's website is a detailed list of preparations.
On Friday night, Brevard County in central Florida originally ordered the first mandatory evacuations in the state -- at 8 a.m. Sunday for barrier islands, low-lying and flood-prone areas, mobile homes and special needs residents. But on Saturday, the evacuations were delayed 24 hours until Monday because Dorian has slowed and the track changed.
"This is not your government saying we're out of harm's way," Public Safety Director Matt Wallace insisted in a news release said. "This is still a killer storm. We want our residents to remain vigilant, to protect your family and loved ones and to make smart decisions."
The evacuation applies to areas from Kennedy Space Center south to the county line. KSC's crawler-transported took eight hours Friday to move the mobile launcher from Launch Pad 39B to the Vehicle Assembly Building.
Farther south in Martin County, mandatory evacuations originally were ordered to residences on Hutchinson Island, Jupiter Island and Sewall's Point by 10 a.m. Sunday. But on Saturday night, the evacuate orders were lifted.
Shelters are scheduled to open up and down the eastern Florida coast on Sunday.
Residents also have been heading north on Interstate 95, Interstate 74 and Florida's Turnpike to move away from the path of Dorian.
Drivers are allowed to travel on the shoulder on interstates and tollroads, and tolls will be lifted once evacuation orders come from local counties. The state is not planning to turn highways into all one-way traffic when evacuation orders are issued -- a process known as "contraflow," the governor said Friday.
Drivers have encountered long lines at gas stations with many stations' tanks empty. GasBuddy lists gasoline availability.
DeSantis said Florida Highway Patrol is escorting trucks to resupply gas stations. Fuel comes into Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale.
"There are some parts of the state where you have major lines for gas, cars are lined up," he said. "It makes it more difficult for the trucks to get in and replenish the gas supply, so I think the escorts will help with that.
"We have a lot of fuel in Florida, it's just we have limited capacity to bring it from the ports to the gas stations because you can only have so many trucks doing that."
Airlines have not canceled flights yet though many carriers, including Delta, Spirit, American and Southwest, are offering to waive change fees or for passengers.
None of the airports in south Florida announced plans to shut down. Orlando International Airport announced on Friday it would close early Monday morning but reversed course on Saturday night and decided to keep the airport open.
Few seats remain to fly out of the airports -- and those available are at a high price -- as travel is heavy during the Labor Day weekend.
Because of the holiday, schools and many businesses won't be open.
Some places have already announced plans to shut down Tuesday, including the University of Florida in Gainesville, which is inland in the central part of the state. In addition, Florida State moved its football game Saturday against Boise State from a neutral site in Jacksonville to its home in Tallahassee.
Cruise lines also have been altering plans. One Carnival cruise from Port Canaveral was canceled because of the port's closure Sunday, and another has been sliced from five days to two days with a Thursday departure. A Disney cruise from the port similarly has been cut from five days to two days with the departure expected Wednesday.
Itineraries have shifted, including avoiding the Bahamas and private islands, as well as cutting short and lengthening cruises that began in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, according to Carnival as well as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, based out of Port of Palm Beach, offered a discounted charge of $69 per person, per day, plus tax, aboard Grand Celebration for people wishing to evacuate from the area Friday. Normally the ship travels to the Bahamas as a two-day cruise but a revised itinerary wasn't announced before the trip.
Residents planning to ride out the storm have been stocking up on essentials for several days, including bottled water, propane, batteries, food and generators.
Florida state law prohibits excessive increases in the price of essential commodities as a direct result of an officially declared emergency.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Ashley Moody activated Florida's Price Gouging Hotline for consumers in some counties as DeSantis declared a state of emergency. On Friday, it was extended to all 67 counties.
Violators are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.
"I have activated Florida's Price Gouging Hotline in an effort to prevent gouging, so Floridians can afford essential items now," Moody said in as news release.
At the opening of business Friday, Moody said her office had received 568 complaints.
Desantis said the state will have more than 1 million gallons of water and 1.8 million meals ready for distribution.
Another concern is losing electricity.
Residents should still prepare for "possible extensive power outages," Florida Power & Light spokesman Bryan Garner said Saturday.
In 2017, more than 4 million FPL customers lost power because of Hurricane Irma.
"We have stress-tested the new system, and we know the system is much more robust than it was in those events a couple of years ago," FPL spokesman David Reuter said Friday.
About 18,000 electrical workers are gathering, including those from other states.