VA Clinics in Southern States Close Ahead of Hurricane Dorian's Arrival

Florida National Guard soldiers, from the CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), load equipment and prepare for potential missions responding to Hurricane Dorian. (Florida National Guard photo/David Sterphone)
Florida National Guard soldiers, from the CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), load equipment and prepare for potential missions responding to Hurricane Dorian. (Florida National Guard photo/David Sterphone)

The VA announced this week that more than 30 outpatient clinics from Key West in Florida to south Georgia would be closed Tuesday ahead of the predicted arrival of Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 3 storm pummeling the Bahamas.

As a safety precaution due to Dorian's uncertain track, the Miami VA Health Care System issued a statement saying that all nine of its satellite clinics would be closed Tuesday.

Staff at the North Florida/South Georgia Veteran Health System announced that all outpatient clinic appointments at all regional facilities would be canceled Tuesday, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

The decision affected clinics from Jacksonville and St. Augustine in Florida to Waycross and Valdosta in Georgia.

In addition, the Lake City, Florida, and Gainesville, Florida, VA Medical Centers canceled primary care, specialty and mental health appointments scheduled for Tuesday, VA officials said.

"We are taking all necessary actions to ensure the safety of our patients and staff," staff with VA's North Florida/South Georgia health system said in an announcement. In total, 31 clinics in Florida and south Georgia are expected to be closed Tuesday.

The huge storm is expected to turn north as it approaches the Florida coast but the path remains unclear.

Although it remains uncertain just how close the eye of Dorian will get to the Florida east coast, "the threat of damaging winds and life-threatening storm surge remains high," staff with the National Weather Service office in Melbourne, Fla., said.

"There will be considerable impacts and damage to coastal areas, with at least some effects felt inland as well," the office said Monday in a statement.

In addition, "there is an increasing likelihood of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina later this week," an announcement from the National Hurricane Center said.

At a news conference Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, said he had spoken with President Donald Trump and Trump "just reiterated that he's going to provide any resources we need to weather Dorian."

More than 4,000 Florida National Guard troops have been called up, DeSantis said. All Florida coastal counties have been issued evacuation orders and 72 nursing homes have been evacuated, he said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, also have ordered evacuations of their states' Atlantic coast areas.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com

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