Laura Suazo went into labor three weeks early as Hurricane Dorian lashed the Florida coast

By Char Adams
September 06, 2019 10:56 AM
Laura Suazo (left) with baby Penelope and partner
Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center

A pregnant Florida nurse went into labor three weeks early during her shift at a Melbourne hospital as Hurricane Dorian’s severe rain and heavy winds hit parts of the coast.

Laura Suazo volunteered to work at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center on Monday amid warnings that Hurricane Dorian threatened the Florida east coast, according to a hospital statement to PEOPLE. She went into labor that day — three weeks early — and gave birth to daughter Penelope on Tuesday morning.

“I was in the perfect place to have my baby and was so glad to be here in the hospital,” Suazo says in the statement. “I was definitely surprised I went into labor three weeks early, but have had an absolutely wonderful experience.”

Mother and baby are doing well, according to the statement. Little Penelope is one of eight babies born at the hospital during Hurricane Dorian between Monday and Tuesday, a hospital spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

Laura Suazo's daughter Penelope
Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center

Dorian lashed the east coast of central Florida on Tuesday with maximum sustained winds at 110mph winds east of Melbourne, the National Hurricane Center said then.

Forecasters warned Florida residents to prepare for the storm’s wrath after it wreaked havoc on the Bahamas beginning on Sunday, killing at least 30 people and leaving potentially thousands missing, CNN reported. By Tuesday, forecasters said Dorian could damage the Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina coasts, even if didn’t make landfall.

RELATED: Hurricane Dorian Hits the Carolinas with ‘Serious’ Force as Bahamas Death Toll Rises to 23

However, the storm wound up making landfall Friday morning over Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, as a Category 1 hurricane, bringing the possibility of a “life-threatening storm surge” and dangerous winds, the Center said.

Strong winds and heavy rain at Jensen Beach, Florida on Tuesday, Sept. 3
ADAM DELGIUDICE/AFP/Getty

“Normally dry areas near the coast will be flooded by rising waters moving inland,” the Center announced in an advisory. “The surge will likely be accompanied by large and destructive waves, and water levels could rise quite quickly as Dorian passes on the sound side of the Outer Banks.”

Dorian continued north after ravaging South Carolina and causing road closures and more than 275,000 to lose power, NBC News reported.

“Get to safety and stay there,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said during a media briefing. “This won’t be a brush-by. Whether it comes ashore or not, the eye of the storm will be close enough to cause extensive damage in North Carolina.”

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