Hurricane Dorian Devastates The Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian unleashed “extreme destruction” as it pummeled the Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands during Labor Day weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm, which reached Category 5 status, has left at least five dead in the Bahamas.

The now-Category 2 storm struck the Northern Bahamas as one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. Dorian stalled north of Grand Bahama Island on September 2, delivering 120 mph winds.

The previous day, reports warned that some low-lying islands in the Bahamas were at risk of being nearly submerged due to the storm. This prospect was particularly terrifying for people who had decided or been forced to ride out the storm on the low-lying parts of the islands.

On September 3, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm had reached wind gusts of up to 140 mph. The Bahamas were also at risk of storm surge reaching 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels with higher destructive waves and “extreme” flooding from up to 30 inches of rain, the NHC said in a morning update.

The agency added that the hazards would continue over Grand Bahama Island throughout much of September 3.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis of the Bahamas told reporters on September 2 that homes, businesses, and other buildings in the island nation have been completely or partially destroyed by Dorian.

“Downtown Grand Bahama is under three feet of water, including the ground floor of its hospital and the prime minister’s office,” Minnis said. According to The New York Times, officials with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, which is based in Barbados, may not be able to reach the Bahamas until September 4 because Dorian has remained in the area.

During the evening news conference, the prime minister said that the Royal Bahamas Police force confirmed the deaths of five people in Abaco. Minnis added that at least 21 others were injured and taken to hospitals.

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Minnis said. “Our focus is search, rescue, and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders.”

Dorian caused waters to rise quickly in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, trapping residents in their homes. Residents pleaded to be rescued but wind gusts and rapid currents made it difficult to reach those trapped.

“Dorian is still battering Grand Bahama Island and will continue for many more hours,” Minnis tweeted after the news conference. “We know that there are a number of people in serious distress. We pray for their safety and will provide relief and assistance as soon as possible.”

The storm is now expected to make its way to the East Coast, with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in its path. The NHC said that life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds are expected along parts of Florida’s east coast, Georgia, and South Carolina. The agency warned that water levels could begin to rise before the arrival of strong winds.

Coastal North Carolina is also at risk of life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds, the NHC said on September 3. The flash flood threat is expected to spread up the East Coast during the middle and latter part of the week, the agency added. Dorian has already forced evacuations in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place in the following Florida counties: Brevard, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Martin, Nassau, Palm Beach, Putnam, St. Johns, St. Lucie, and Volusia. Voluntary or phased evacuation orders have been announced in: Okeechobee, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. Additional information is available here.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that six counties east of Interstate 95 were ordered to evacuate. Kemp also declared a state of emergency in 12 southeast Georgia counties.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered the evacuation of Beaufort and Charleston Counties, as well as parts of the state’s other coastal counties. Like Kemp, McMaster also declared a state of emergency in his state. The governor ordered that all schools and government offices in Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry counties close beginning on September 3.

Several airports, including Orlando International Airport, Palm Beach International Airport, Daytona Beach International Airport, and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, closed due to the storm. Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood both plan to reopen on September 3.

According to FlightAware, as of September 3, 1,792 flights within, into, or out of the US have been cancelled and 1,965 flights have been delayed.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.