A catastrophic storm – Hurricane Dorian kept pounding through the northern Bahamas on Monday. In a slow and relentless advancement, the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded left wreckage of infrastructures and properties in its wake.
The storm stalled over Grand Bahamas Island, gathering a maximum sustained wind of 249 kilometres per hour (155 mph) and moving at 2 km/h. The Miami based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said in an advisory at 11 am (16:00 GMT), that Dorian was expected to pound the Bahamas for much of the day.
As at Tuesday morning, the hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to category three (3), however, the threat remains and continues to pound and batter the Bahamas as it remains almost at a standstill.
Bahamas Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis, confirmed the death of five people as a result of the storm, and officials predict that the death toll could go up.
“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in announcing the fatalities. He called the devastation “unprecedented and extensive.”
Officials said they have received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes.
A radio station reports haven received over 2000 distress calls, including reports of a five-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a that of a grandmother with six grandchildren who cut a hole in the roof to escape rising floodwaters. Another report involves a group of eight children and five adults stranded on a highway and two flooded storm shelters.
Police Chief, Samuel Butler, urged people to remain calm and share their GPS coordinates, adding that rescue crews had to wait until the weather conditions improved.
“We simply cannot get to you,” he told Bahamas radio station ZNS, as forecasters warned that Dorian could generate a storm surge as high as 23 feet (7 meters).
Residents were warned not to leave shelters until the eye of the hurricane passed as the storm’s strongest winds are usually close to the eye.
The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 kilometres (19–40 mi) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur.
Regarding the extent of damages left by the storm, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports that as many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged.
Houses in a neighbourhood in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island were engulfed by six feet (1.8 metres) of water. “It looks like they are boats on top of the water,” said Rosa Knowles-Bain, 61, a resident who fled two days ago to an emergency shelter.
A Reuters witness staying at a resort on the island of Great Abaco said winds tore off the shutters and part of the roof, and the site was surrounded by a lake of water.
According to the brigade, some people are taking shelter in the Government Medical Center in Marsh Harbour while others are doing welfare checks in the area. A command center has also been established at Parliament Harbour House.
“Relief flights, boats, and supplies are posed and ready to go the instant the weather permits. We hope to have a flyover in the next couple of days to report on the damages,” said the brigade in a Facebook post.
A video on CNN shows the storm battering a house and voices could be heard in the background – “Pls pray for us, pls pray for us, I’m begging you pls pray for us.”
There has been a mandatory evacuation on the coast of Florida, US, due to a threat that Florida may be along the path of the storm and as a result, about 830,000 evacuees have left the city. Some hurricane shelters in Stuart Florida have stopped accepting evacuees. “If they haven’t evacuated yet, it’s too late,” said CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam in Stuart.
“In fact, the shelters, the evacuation centers here in Martin County are no longer accepting evacuees. The causeway that connects the barrier islands where the mandatory evacuations have been underway since 1 p.m. yesterday are now closed,” Van Dam said.
At the White House, staff members reviewed hurricane planning with state and local officials and according to White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, US President Donald Trump was being briefed hourly.