Hurricane Dorian: five dead as ‘extreme destruction’ inflicted on Bahamas

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Hurricane Dorian: five dead as ‘extreme destruction’ inflicted on Bahamas

Dorian stalls over Grand Bahama, bringing high winds, torrential rain and storm surges

 Deadly Hurricane Dorian stalls over Bahamas – video

Hurricane Dorian has stalled over the Bahamas, lashing the islands with wind, rain and storm surges, and killing at least five people.

Thousands of homes were inundated by floodwater as rescue operations tried to reach stranded residents, many trapped on roofs.

Dorian, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, has been hovering over Grand Bahama Island for more than a day. It has weakened to a Category 3 hurricane but is still battering the Bahamas with winds of 120mph, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in an advisory issued at 2am EST (0600 GMT).

The ferocious storm’s centre was about 30 miles north-east of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island and about 100 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida. The NHC urged residents to remain in shelters as they continued to be pounded by the storm’s “eyewall”. The storm’s strongest winds are usually close to the eye.

In an earlier update, it said Dorian was “continuing to thrash” Grand Bahama and would cause “extreme destruction” into Tuesday morning.

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At least five people have been killed in the Abaco Islands, in the northern Bahamas, the country’s prime minister, Hubert Minnis, said on Monday. “We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas,” Minnis said. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery.”

Abaco and Grand Bahama, neither much more than 40 feet (12 metres) above sea level at their highest points, are home to 70,000 people.

Bahamian officials said they received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes. One radio station said it received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a five-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a woman with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. At least two designated storm shelters flooded.

Iram Lewis, a Bahamian MP, told the Associated Press his greatest fear was that waters would keep rising overnight and that stranded people would lose contact with officials as cellphone batteries died.

“It is scary,” he said, adding that Grand Bahama’s airport was 6 feet underwater and that people were moving shelters as floodwaters kept surging. “We’re definitely in dire straits.”

Yasmin Rigby, who lives in Freeport, told Reuters: “People who thought they were safe are now calling for help.”

Minnis said the US Coast Guard was on the ground in Abaco and had rescued a number of injured people. Critically injured people were being taken to hospitals on New Providence, the country’s most populous island.

U.S. Embassy Nassau

@USEmbassyNassau

@USEmbassyNassau has begun helping victims of Hurricane in . @USCGSoutheast sent helicopters to evacuate injured from Abaco, flying back to Nassau for urgent care. Please stay informed from reliable sources, and keep safe.

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A witness staying in the hotel at the Abaco Beach Resort on the island of Great Abaco told Reuters that winds tore off the shutters and part of the roof, and the site was surrounded by a lake of water.

Dorian threatened to unleash a storm surge that could raise water levels by as much as 12 to 18 feet (4-5 metres) above normal on Grand Bahama Island, the NHC said.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. Houses in a neighbourhood in Freeport were engulfed by six feet (1.8 metres) of water.

“It looks like they’re boats on top of the water,” said Rosa Knowles-Bain, 61, a resident who fled two days ago to an emergency shelter.

The NHC said Dorian was expected to drift to the north-west late on Tuesday, moving “dangerously close” to the east coast of Florida, where strong gusts and high surf were already being reported.

At the White House, staff members reviewed hurricane planning with state and local officials. Donald Trump was being briefed hourly, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.

Nine counties in Florida have issued mandatory evacuations. They included parts of Duval County, home to Jacksonville, one of Florida’s two biggest cities, and some areas in Palm Beach County, home to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

A woman seeks cover from wind, blowing sand and rain whipped up by Hurricane Dorian on Cocoa Beach, Florida.
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 A woman seeks cover from wind, blowing sand and rain whipped up by Hurricane Dorian on Cocoa Beach, Florida. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, urged coastal residents to heed evacuation orders. “Get out now while there’s time and while you have fuel available,” he told a news conference from the state’s emergency operations centre in Tallahassee.

Orlando International airport, one of the largest in the state, planned to cease commercial operations at 2am on Tuesday because of the storm, it said in a statement.

More than 1,300 flights have been cancelled in the US as well as to and from the country. A further 1,000 flights are expected to be cancelled on Tuesday, according to the flight tracking site, FlightAware.

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando will close early on Tuesday, it said in a statement.

Multiple coastal counties in South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia have ordered mandatory evacuations ahead of the storm.

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