Airlines canceled flights Monday, airports shut down in storm-battered Florida, and Nassau and Suffolk volunteers joined others heading south to help as lethal-but-slow-moving Hurricane Dorian crept closer to the United States.
JetBlue, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines each reported the cancellation of at least 150 flights to Florida as well as the Bahamas, where winds from Dorian shredded buildings, and flooding from torrential rains forced some residents to wait for help on rooftops.
“In preparation for Hurricane Dorian, we have canceled approximately 270 flights through Monday, September 2, 2019," Kennedy Airport-based Jet Blue said in a statement, "and our customer support team is working to assist affected customers with rescheduling of flights or refunds.”
American Airlines canceled as many as 170 flights Monday, 150 for Tuesday, 40 for Wednesday and 15 for Thursday, officials said.
“American is closely monitoring the track of Hurricane Dorian,” the company said in a statement. “… Additionally, due to the size, strength and location of the hurricane, we will experience a disruption to our operation throughout the week, specifically on flights that operate along the East Coast.”
The shuttered Florida airports included those in Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Melbourne and West Palm Beach. In the Bahamas, authorities closed airports in Freeport, Marsh Harbour and Nassau.
By early afternoon Monday, Southwest Airlines had canceled 350 flights scheduled through midweek.
“Our Planners are moving forward with additional cancellations in the Southwest operation that will affect planned flights in and out of Florida through Wednesday,” the airline said in a statement posted on its website.
Four crews made up 17 American Red Cross volunteers and staffers from Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as New York City began setting up in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to respond if Dorian — a Category 4 hurricane as of late Monday night — makes landfall.
The area Red Cross group will be joined by about 1,600 others responding from around the nation to help set up shelter and evacuation centers if Dorian comes ashore, said Melody Storgaard, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.
"They are getting ready for the hit," she said. "They're just making sure that they're ready for when people need it."
Officials with the Town of Islip, which runs MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, could not be reached for comment. The airport hosts American Airlines and Southwest Airlines as well as Frontier Airlines, which serves several cities in Florida. A Frontier Airlines official could not be reached for comment.
PSEG Long Island officials said they were monitoring the hurricane's progress.
“We’re watching the storm and will continue to watch the storm and prepare as we go along,” said Elizabeth Flagler, a spokeswoman for the utility.