Hurricane Dorian yesterday churned towards the US after leaving seven dead in the Bahamas, where Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said that terrified residents had endured “days of horror” at the hands of the monster storm.
Aerial footage showed scenes of catastrophic damage with hundreds of homes missing roofs, vehicles submerged or overturned, widespread flooding and boats reduced to matchwood.
Harrowing accounts emerged, with one survivor describing how he had watched his wife drown.
Photo: Reuters / Michelle Cove / Trans Island Airways
Announcing the updated death toll, Minnis said that the number would rise as he called Dorian “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history.”
“Parts of Abaco are decimated. There’s severe flooding, there’s severe damage to homes, businesses, other buildings and infrastructure,” he said.
All tropical storm warnings for the islands had been discontinued, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said, as more accounts of the suffering it inflicted emerged.
Crab fisherman Howard Armstrong described how water flooded his home, reaching his roof.
“I would imagine 21 feet [6m] at least. We were doing all right until the water kept coming up and all the appliances were going around the house like a washing machine,” he told CNN.
“My poor little wife got hypothermia and she was standing on top of the kitchen cabinets until they disintegrated... I kept with her and she just drowned on me,” said Armstrong, who eventually made it to his boat.
The US Coast Guard sent helicopters to Andros Island to help with search-and-rescue operations as residents trapped in their homes by floodwaters issued distress calls.
However, the runways at Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport were underwater, complicating rescue efforts.
The Miami-based NHC said that the core of the storm “will move dangerously close to the Florida east coast and the Georgia coast through Wednesday night.”
Dorian is to move “near or over” the South and North Carolina coasts from today to tomorrow morning.
The storm, which has dumped as much as 76cm of rain on the Bahamas, on Tuesday morning was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, but it is “expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days,” the NHC said.
A state of emergency has been declared in parts of the east coast for millions of US residents.
The Pentagon said that 5,000 members of the National Guard and 2,700 active-duty troops were ready to help if needed.
Some mandatory evacuations were lifted on Tuesday afternoon for parts of southern Florida, while further north, a large swathe of the state’s coast — as well as that from mid-Georgia to southern North Carolina — remained under a hurricane warning.
At 5am yesterday, Dorian was packing maximum sustained winds of 165kph, the NHC said, as it moved north-northwest at 13kph.
Meanwhile, Freeport resident Yasmin Rigby said that “most of the island is still flooded” and it was “still raining with gusty winds.”
“I am still getting calls from people calling for help,” Rigby said. “I cannot move from my apartment. Thankfully we have sufficient supplies.”
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