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As Dorian nears Hampton Roads, Navy preps for storm

With the eye of Hurricane Dorian about 500 miles south of Hampton Roads, the commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic on Thursday afternoon told sailors that only “mission essential” personnel should report to work at his installations the next morning.

Setting Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness I, Rear Adm. Charles Rock told sailors in the Hampton Roads region to prep for the arrival by Friday afternoon of heavy rain and sustained destructive gusts greater than 50 knots.

“Personnel should contact their respective chain of command for specific reporting procedures,” according to an email sent by Rock’s command to Navy Times.

For workers at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, only mission essential 1st and 2nd shift personnel should report on Friday.

Friday’s 3rd shift, however, “should report on time as scheduled,” according to his directive.

Sailors man the rails of the guided-missile destroyer Winston Churchill before the warship sortied Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is expected unleash high winds and heavy rain on the Hampton Roads region. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua D. Sheppard/Navy)
Warships sail to safety as Dorian looms

The Navy also issued an emergency evacuation order Wednesday evening for all non-essential active-duty service members and their families, activated reservists and civilian Department of Defense and Navy employees for a wide swath of coastal North Carolina.

Rock also issued an emergency evacuation order for all military personnel, Department of Defense civilian employees and their families living in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach and the Dam Neck Annex.

Rock’s directive meant relocating 62 Navy officers and sailors to Naval Air Station Oceana until the storm passes.

Those also affected by his order were 368 students at Training Support Center Hampton Roads, 150 Marines, 43 Navy Lodge guests and 181 people staying at the Navy Gateway Inns and Suites, according to an email from his command sent to Navy Times.

“The safety of our personnel and their families remains our top priority as Hurricane Dorian approaches,” said Rock in his prepared statement.

“For those traveling, please keep safety in mind and muster with your chain of command when reaching your safe haven. Roadways, interstates and highways may be congested as people travel out of harm’s way.”

No one will travel by sea.

Coast Guard’s Captain of the Port of Hampton Roads set Port Condition Zulu on Thursday afternoon.

Capt. Kevin M. Carroll’s order closed the port and suspended all operations there until the hurricane passed.

Floodwaters swirl around a storm drain as heavy rain falls from Hurricane Dorian on Thursday in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP)
Floodwaters swirl around a storm drain as heavy rain falls from Hurricane Dorian on Thursday in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Jason Lee/The Sun News via AP)

Shortly before Rock posted his evacuation order, the National Hurricane Center in Miami announced that the eye of Dorian was just offshore the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina, about 60 miles south of Myrtle Beach.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, Dorian continues to push north-northeast, creating the danger of “life-threatening inundation” from storm surge along a shoreline stretching to the Virginia-North Carolina border, forecasters warned.

Moving at 8 mph, the center of the storm should pass over coastal North Carolina on Thursday night and Friday morning, with an expected arrival in Nova Scotia on Saturday.

Hampton Roads residents can expect up to 8 inches of rain and a 7-foot storm surge, with the threat of tornadoes increasing Thursday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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