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The Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday braced for the effects of Hurricane Dorian by closing health care facilities and canceling appointments in three states as the slow-moving storm creeped closer to the U.S. East Coast.

The agency ordered dozens of VA outpatient clinics across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina closed Tuesday.

The VA hospital in Miami and the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System near Tampa, Fla., were closed Tuesday but planned to be fully operational Wednesday as Dorian was predicted to move farther north.

VA health care facilities were expected to remain closed Wednesday along the East Coast of Florida and the south-central portion of the state, including Daytona Beach, Viera, Deltona, Moore Haven and Clewiston.

The West Palm Beach VA Medical Center was operating Tuesday on a limited basis, treating only existing patients and emergencies. It was unclear Tuesday when the facility would resume all operations.

In Georgia, mandatory evacuations of Glynn County in the southeastern part of the state led to the closure of one VA health care facility in Brunswick on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Six VA health care clinics in South Carolina, as well as the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, cancelled veterans’ appointments scheduled for Tuesday through Saturday.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Dorian’s effects are predicted to be felt along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina from Tuesday through Thursday. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was designated a Category 2 hurricane, meaning there’s potential for extensive damage caused by extremely dangerous winds.

The VA established a disaster line for veterans in the area affected by Dorian. Veterans and their families can call 1-800-507-4571 to learn where to go for care and how to receive prescription drugs, as well as to ask any other questions.

wentling.nikki@stripes.com Twitter: @nikkiwentling thayer.rose@stripes.com Twitter: @Rose_Lori

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Nikki Wentling has worked for Stars and Stripes since 2016. She reports from Congress, the White House, the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the country about issues affecting veterans, service members and their families. Wentling, a graduate of the University of Kansas, previously worked at the Lawrence Journal-World and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans awarded Stars and Stripes the Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for Wentling’s reporting on homeless veterans during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, she was named by the nonprofit HillVets as one of the 100 most influential people in regard to veterans policymaking.
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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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