Rescuers are pleading for more ‘help’ as they continue their attempts to reach victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas across a blasted landscape of smashed and flooded homes.
The official death toll still stands at seven, but officials believe that number will rise. The full magnitude of the crisis in the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama is still coming into focus, with rescue crews yet to reach some stricken areas.
‘Right now there are just a lot of unknowns,’ Parliament member Iram Lewis said in Grand Bahama in the wake of the most powerful hurricane on record ever to hit the country. ‘We need help.’
National Security Minister Marvin Dames said rescue teams were fanning out across the northern Bahamas as the winds and rain subsided, with more than 600 police officers and marines in Grand Bahama and an additional 100 in Abaco.
‘The devastation is unlike anything that we’ve ever seen before,’ he said. ‘We’re beginning to get on the ground, get our people in the right places. We have a lot of work in the days and weeks and months ahead.’
Dorian, meanwhile, pushed its way northward off the Florida shoreline with reduced but still-dangerous 105mph winds on a projected course that could sideswipe Georgia and the Carolinas. An estimated 3 million people in the four states were warned to evacuate.
The storm mauled the Bahamas for over a day and a half with winds up to 185mph and torrential rains, swamping neighborhoods in muddy brown floodwaters and destroying or severely damaging thousands of homes.
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Rescuers are pleading for more ‘help’ as they continue their attempts to reach victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas across a blasted landscape of smashed and flooded homes. Members of the Coast Guard are seen evacuating a victim in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, on Tuesday
US Coast Guard personnel wheel an evacuee on a stretcher after the victim was rescued from Abaco Island during Hurricane Dorian on Tuesday
National Security Minister Marvin Dames said rescue teams (pictured in Freeport, Bahamas) were fanning out across the northern Bahamas as the winds and rain subsided, with more than 600 police officers and marines in Grand Bahama and an additional 100 in Abaco
A family is escorted to a safe zone after they were rescued as Hurricane Dorian continued to rain in Freeport, Bahamas, on Tuesday
Coast Guard choppers are seen preparing to head out on rescue missions during a downpour from Hurricane Dorian. The Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people who were injured on Abaco Island, which Dorian hit on Sunday with sustained winds of 185mph and gusts of up to 220mph
Evacuees from Treasure Cay arrive at Nassau International Airport, Bahamas, on Wednesday as the Bahamas deals with the devastation of Hurricane Dorian
A man is seen escorting a woman to a nearby bus after she arrived at Nassau International Airport from Treasure Cray in the Bahamas
‘We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,’ said Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.
‘We can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information,’ Minnis told a news conference.
Messages on Twitter described whole communities being swept away and Minnis said he saw people waving for help in a community near Coopers Town on Great Abaco, after it had been cut off by flooding.
‘There were around 30 people trapped and waving yellow flags, sheets and shirts to bring our attention to their survival,’ Minnis said.
Rescuers used jet skis, boats and even a bulldozer to reach children and adults trapped by the swirling waters, while the US Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and relief organizations tried to get food and medicine to survivors and take the most desperate people to safety.
Five Coast Guard helicopters ran near-hourly flights to stricken Abaco, flying people to the main hospital in the capital, Nassau.
Health Minister Duane Sands said the government was airlifting 25 doctors, nurses and other health workers to Abaco and hoped to bring in mental health workers soon.
‘The situation is under control in Abaco,’ he said. ‘In Grand Bahama, today will tell the magnitude of the problem.’
Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, with a combined population of about 70,000, are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts.
Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said Tuesday that more than 13,000 houses, or about 45 per cent of the homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco, were believed to be severely damaged or destroyed.
An aerial view shows the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian after it hit the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas on Tuesday. Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Tuesday said seven people had been killed since the storm made landfall
Houses lay gutted after the storm continued to tear through properties on the islands on Tuesday, as shown in this aerial from yesterday
A main road remained clear (left) despite carnage on either side of it as Hurricane Dorian leaves the Bahamas with a mammoth clean-up operation. Right: The islands’ lands have become floodplains after the storm surge
Social media images show a scene of utter devastation as shipping containers lay scattered across roads in the Bahamas following the hurricane
Abaco Islands in the Bahamas (pictured) was battered by the powerful storm, with houses torn apart and left without roofs
Apocalyptic pictures show the view down the coast of the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, where towns were flattened and flooded
A graphic shows how the Atlantic Ocean has swamped huge areas of Grand Bahama, the northernmost island, leaving just a thin strip of land above water
A US Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater handout released on Wednesday shows boats strewn across a marina in Marsh Harbour on Monday
An aerial view shows a home that was lifted off its foundation and completely destroyed after hurricane Dorian hit the Grand Bahama Island
Residents line up as workers try to repair a bridge after hurricane Dorian hit the Grand Bahama Island earlier this week
An aerial view shows devastation after hurricane Dorian hit the Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas
Residents look through debris after hurricane Dorian ripped through their Grand Bahama home
The death toll was at seven on Tuesday but the country was warned to expected more devastation. An aerial view of the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas in this still image from video obtained via social media
The Western Air terminal (pictured) on Grand Bahama was completely destroyed by Hurricane Dorian
A private plane is seen with major damage at the Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport on Wednesday
UN and Red Cross officials said tens of thousands of people will need food and clean drinking water.
‘It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic,’ said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a hurricane relief group and flew over Abaco. ‘It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.’
She said her representative on Abaco told her there were ‘a lot more dead’.
At 8am Wednesday, Dorian was centered about 95 miles northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida, moving northwest at 8 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 60 miles from its center.
Dorian is expected to pass dangerously close to Georgia and perhaps strike South Carolina or North Carolina on Thursday or Friday with the potential for over a foot of rain in some spots.
The National Hurricane Center warned that the storm is likely to cause storm surge and severe flooding even if the hurricane’s core does not blow ashore.
‘Don’t tough it out. Get out,’ said US Federal Emergency Management Agency official Carlos Castillo.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Tuesday said he had spotted 30 people trapped and trying to alert attention of rescuers near Coopers Town on Great Abaco
An aerial view shows devastation after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas on Tuesday
Hurricane Dorian has killed at least five people and destroyed as many as 13,000 homes during its path of destruction through the Bahamas. This photo shows dozens of damaged boats at the Marsh Harbour Boatyards in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas
This photo taken by the US Coast Guard during a rescue operation shows floodwaters at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas
An aerial photo of damage from Hurricane Dorian to a neighborhood on Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, on Wednesday
This home was flooded by Hurricane Dorian as it passed over Grand Bahama Island earlier his week
People gather donations for Hurricane Dorian relief at Christ Episcopal Church on September 3, 2019, in Miami, Florida
Across the Southeast, interstate highways leading away from beaches were turned into one-way evacuation routes. Walt Disney World and Universal closed their theme parks in Orlando on Tuesday.
The Navy ordered ships at its huge base in Norfolk, Virginia, to head out to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, were being moved inland to Ohio.
President Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon: ‘The US may be getting a little bit lucky with respect to Hurricane Dorian, but please don’t let down your guard. As it heads up the coast, lots of very bad and unpredictable things can happen! On the other hand, the Bahamas have been devastated. We are sending crews to help!’
He added a few hours later: ‘At the request of Senator Thom Tillis, I am getting the North Carolina Emergency Declaration completed and signed tonight. Hope you won’t need it.’
In the Bahamas, one Twitter post with the handle @mvp242 described how ‘victims are being loaded on flatbed trucks across Abaco,’ showing a rain-blurred photo of limp bodies strewn across a truck bed.
With telephones – including emergency lines – down on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, residents posted lists of missing loved ones across social media platforms.
A single Facebook post inviting the names of missing people by local media outlet Our News Bahamas had 1,600 comments listing lost family members since it went live late on Tuesday morning.
Traffic is seen as curious locals visit the Vero Beach waterfront during tropical storm conditions Tuesday
A reporter is splashed by waves as strong gusts of wind and bands of heavy rain hit the Jensen Beach Causeway Park in Jensen Beach, Florida on Tuesday
Dorian packed sustained winds of 105mph and is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days. Vero Beach in Florida is pictured
A boat is tossed in large waves off the Jensen Beach Causeway Park in Jensen Beach, Florida on Tuesday
Strong gusts of wind and bands of heavy rain cover a pier at the Jensen Beach Causeway Park in Jensen Beach, Florida
Dorian battered the Bahamas for three days. The catastrophic onslaught sent floodwaters up to the second floors of some buildings, trapped people in attics and led to others fleeing from one shelter to another.
Photos have captured just a glimpse of the devastation in the Bahamas. One image shows dozens of capsized boats at a harbor, while video shows stalled cars on flooded roads.
‘Marsh Harbor has suffered, I would estimate, in excess of 60 per cent damage to their homes,’ Minnis said, referring to the port on Great Abaco.
‘The Mud, as we know, has been completely destroyed or decimated,’ he said in reference to a shantytown known as The Mud and The Peas.
One video shows Bahamians picking through debris as they try to salvage some of their belongings.
The Grand Bahama airport was said to be under 6 feet of water. The storm hovered over the islands for almost 24 hours.
Food may be required for 14,500 people in the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas and for 45,700 people in Grand Bahama, the UN World Food Programme said in a statement.
The preliminary estimates were based on an assessment by representatives from Caribbean countries, the WFP and other organizations.
The US Agency for International Development said on Twitter it was ‘airlifting critical relief items – like plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, and water containers’ from Miami to the Bahamas.
The US Coast Guard said four of its helicopters were assisting in the humanitarian effort.
Bahamians have rescued victims of the storm with jet skis and a bulldozer as the US coast guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and aid groups tried to get food and medicine to survivors and take the most desperate people to safety.
Dorian, which killed one person in Puerto Rico before bashing into the Bahamas on Sunday, is tied for the second-strongest Atlantic storm to make landfall with Gilbert (1988), Wilma (2005) and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.
Minnis said earlier this week: ‘We are in the midst of a historic tragedy. The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.’
The Royal Family shared condolences to the victims of Hurricane Dorian in a statement shared on Instagram
‘Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery,’ Minnis added. He said the US Coast Guard was on the ground in Abaco and had rescued a number of injured individuals.
The Coast Guard airlifted at least 21 people who were injured on Abaco Island, which Dorian hit on Sunday with sustained winds of 185mph and gusts of up to 220mph, a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were given names.
Critically injured people were being taken to hospitals on New Providence, the country’s most populous island.
The storm was at a standstill, with part of its eyewall having hung over Grand Bahama Island since Sunday night.
The Royal Family shared their condolences to the victims of Hurricane Dorian in a statement that was shared on Instagram.
‘Prince Philip and I have been shocked and saddened to learn of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, and we send our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives following this terrible storm,’ a message from Queen Elizabeth II reads.
‘At this very difficult time, my thoughts and prayers are with those who have seen their homes and property destroyed, and I also send my gratitude to the emergency services and volunteers who are supporting the rescue and recovery effort,’ the statement concluded.
Houses in a neighborhood in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island were engulfed by 6 feet of water.
‘It looks like they’re boats on top of the water,’ said Rosa Knowles-Bain, 61, a resident who fled three days ago to an emergency shelter.
Julia Aylen (pictured) was seen wading through waist-deep water while carrying her two pet dogs
Residents wade through a street flooded with water brought on by Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, where the storm’s relentless winds caused catastrophic damage and flooding
Volunteers rescue several families that arrived on small boats, from the rising waters of Hurricane Dorian, near the Causarina bridge in Freeport, Bahamas, on Tuesday
Other volunteers were seen on a motor-boat rescuing people trapped by the rising waters of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport
Rain brought on by Hurricane Dorian continued to pour in Freeport, Bahamas, on Tuesday and devastated thousands of homes (pictured)
Bahamian officials said they received a ‘tremendous’ number of calls from people in flooded homes.
One radio station said it fielded 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.
NASA satellite imagery through Monday night showed spots in the Bahamas where Dorian had dumped as much as 35 inches of rain, said private meteorologist Ryan Maue.
Health minister Duane Sands said flooding has rendered the main hospital on Grand Bahama unusable.
He said the hospital in Marsh Harbour is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies.
Sands also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who have not received dialysis since Friday.
Bahamian officials said they received a ‘tremendous’ number of calls from people in flooded homes. Footage showed the moment an ambulance became trapped in the heavy floodwaters of the Bahamas during Hurricane Dorian
Four MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews were deployed to conduct search and rescue missions in the Bahamas. An ambulance is seen outside damaged homes as they rescue a resident
Parliament member Iram Lewis said he feared that waters would keep rising and stranded people would lose contact with officials as mobile phone batteries died.
‘It is scary,’ he said, adding that people were moving from one shelter to another as floodwaters kept surging. ‘We’re definitely in dire straits.’
Lewis also said the death toll, which is currently at 5, is likely to rise.
‘It is safe to say, unfortunately, that that number will go up,’ Lewis said, adding that extensive floodwaters were making it difficult for rescuers to reach stranded residents.
Officials in northeastern Florida have urged people to stay away from the beaches due to possible storm surge from Hurricane Dorian.
Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said Tuesday that waves of up to 20 feet are expected along the area’s Atlantic beaches as the storm moves toward the north.
He says there can still be ‘life-threatening if not deadly conditions at the beach’.
Lord said storm surge is expected along the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Over Labor Day weekend, hundreds of thousands of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina – more than 800,000 in South Carolina alone – were ordered to evacuate amid fears Dorian could bring life-threatening storm-surge flooding (depicted above) even if the hurricane’s center stays offshore, as forecast
Forecasters also released this map of areas where power outages are ‘possible’ and ‘likely’ (depicted above)
This graphic shows the times and probability that Hurricane Dorian is likely to pass near multiple states along the East Coast