By RICHARD TRIBOUORLANDO SENTINEL |SEP 02, 2019 | 10:48 AM
Hurricane Dorian tore into the Bahamas on Sunday and Disney Cruise Line came under fire after it didn’t evacuate employees from its private island Castaway Cay.
The Category 5 hurricane had 185 mph sustained winds and gusts of 220 mph, and the center passed over the northwestern Bahamas islands of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama Island.AdvertisementPauseUnmuteLoaded: 0%Progress: 0%Remaining Time-0:29Fullscreen
Castaway Cay is located about 40 miles from where the center of Hurricane Dorian first made landfall on Great Abaco. The 1,000-acre island has more than 60 workers on site year-round, according to Disney Cruise Line, which has operated it as a private cruise destination since 1998.
“Many of our Guests have asked questions about Castaway Cay. Some of our crew remained on the island and their care and safety is our highest priority,” reads an updated statement on Disney Cruise Line’s website. “As forecasted, sustained winds on the island did not extend beyond tropical force strength and our crew has returned to their living quarters after spending a few hours in our storm shelter yesterday. Our thoughts continue to be with the people in areas of the Bahamas that are being impacted by this storm and we stand ready to contribute to recovery efforts.”
On Sunday, the cruise line posted, “We are in regular contact with island leadership, who is making sure our crew is well taken care of in our storm shelter, which is designed for these types of situations and has restrooms, power and is well stocked with food and water.”[Popular on OrlandoSentinel.com] Hurricane Dorian still thrashing Bahamas as Florida readies for impact; east Central Florida still in the cone »
The National Hurricane Center reported that hurricane force winds extended 45 miles out from the center of the storm when it hit Sunday afternoon with tropical storm-force winds extending out 140 miles.
A Disney statement said the projection was always for the island to sustain tropical storm-force winds, and that the on-site shelter is rated to endure Category 5 hurricane winds.
Also on Sunday, Disney’s statement said, “Castaway Cay remains south of the more significant weather and is currently experiencing tropical storm force winds, which based on the current forecast, are expected for the next several hours before gradually diminishing.”
A Twitter user Meg Green, whose account has since been deleted, on Sunday posted concerns about the employees on the island, according to a report from the Miami Herald.[Popular on OrlandoSentinel.com] Hurricane Dorian: DeSantis cautions against complacency as storm idles over Bahamas »
“My sister is stuck in the middle of a Cat 5 hurricane. We were told they would evacuate and they didn’t. Left them behind!! Why??,” read one tweet according to the Herald as well as a second tweet that read, “Remember that time [Disney Cruises] left 97 employees on a tiny island in a Category 5 hurricane? I do.”
The Herald reported that Disney Cruise Line’s Kim Prunty, vice president of communications and public affairs, responded to the tweet:
“I understand your concern, as they are our co-workers. Castaway is south of the more significant weather. [Disney Cruise Lines] is in regular contact with island leadership and all are safe. Forecast calls for tropical storm force winds, which is what is there now. There are extensive measures in place to keep crew safe. A shelter on the island houses all crew and is stocked with a plentiful supply of food and water.”
On Monday, Disney stated that the employees were able to leave the shelter late Sunday night and return to their housing area, which saw no damage. Today’s winds remain around 40 mph on the island.
Read more on MiamiHerald.com.