MIAMI -- Hurricane Frances
was centered over San Salvador in the Bahamas late Thursday
afternoon, approximately 400 miles from Floridas lower East Coast
where it is expected to make landfall late Friday.
Fueled by 145 mph
winds, Frances was set to cross over or near the central Bahamas
Thursday evening. Storm surge flooding of six to 14 feet above
normal tidal levels was expected, along with dangerous battering
waves on the west side of Eleuthera and the north side of Grand
All airports and seaports
in the Bahamas are closed. Airlines cancelled
flights to the region and instituted flexible rebooking policies to
permit itinerary changes without charges for passengers scheduled
to fly into or out of the Bahamas as well as a number of Florida
destinations. Most carriers are offering rebooking without charge
at least through Sept. 5. (See box below for rail service
Emergency officials in 10
Florida counties ordered mandatory evacuations in low-lying areas.
More than 1.2 million people, mostly in South Florida, have been
told to clear out ahead of the Category 4 storm.
Meanwhile, initial reports
from the Turks and Caicos indicate that the storm veered just north
of the eight inhabited islands of the 40-island archipelago,
sparing the destination its first direct hit from a hurricane since
Although individual island
reports from emergency coordinators were still being tallied, no
human injuries or major structural damage to resorts were reported.
There were many uprooted trees and downed power lines.
Chief minister Michael
Misick said, We have reopened for business and look forward to
welcoming our guests back once the airlines resume their
Although Beaches Turks
& Caicos Resort & Spa on Providenciales escaped major
damage from Frances, the resort will be closed until Oct. 20 for
minor landscaping improvements. Guests will be accommodated at
alternate Beaches resorts in Jamaica.
The resort evacuated
guests to Jamaica as a precaution before the storm arrived. Beaches
Blue Chip Hurricane Guarantee offered free replacement vacations,
including air fare, to guests affected by the storm. This equates
to more than $1 million that has been paid out in replacement
vacations so far this hurricane season, which officially ends Nov.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].