“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” the prime minister of the Bahamas said.
Hurricane Dorian hit Grand Bahama Island as an incredibly powerful Category 5 hurricane on Sunday night with howling 185 mile-per-hour winds. Then it basically camped over the island. For nearly two days, Dorian moved at just 1 mile per hour, subjecting Grand Bahama to intense hurricane conditions. Wind gusts blew in excess of 200 mph — strong enough to blow a roof off a house. The storm generated 18 to 23 feet of coastal flooding from storm surge. More than 3 feet of rain fell.
A satellite image from Iceye, a commercial satellite operator, shows the massive flooding on the island. Only one sliver of land was not flooded.
And this is the inundation on Grand Bahama Island: pic.twitter.com/mYFOZUPLpt
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) September 4, 2019
We still don’t have the complete scope of the impact is on Grand Bahama or on the Abaco Islands, another part of the Bahamas pummeled by the enormous storm. But things are looking bad. At least 20 people have been reported dead across both sets of islands; that figure is likely to rise. “We can expect more deaths to be recorded,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told reporters. The storm only cleared out of the Bahamas Wednesday. Search and rescue is still underway.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimates 13,000 homes may have been severely damaged or destroyed across the Bahamas (about half of all homes). The US Coast Guard is responding and the British Royal Navy are responding to the disaster, and relief agencies like the Red Cross are jumping in to help. CNN reports that the main airport in Freeport, has been all but destroyed, which may make bringing aid to island difficult in the coming days.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports “flooding in Abaco is believed to have contaminated wells with saltwater.” Both Grand Bahama and the Abacos may need around 60,000 gallons of water delivered each day. In all, more than 60,000 people may need food and water assistance.
“It is ruined. The fences are knocked down. The walls, there’s no wall left. If anybody had ridden out the storm there I don’t know how they would be alive.” @CNN_Oppmann, describing the scene at Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport, Bahamas https://t.co/j6lzu0F60Q pic.twitter.com/wYm0aG8kUQ
— CNN (@CNN) September 4, 2019
“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.”
Videos and images have started to trickle out of the storm-battered Bahamas from photojournalists and locals on social media. They reveal islands torn to shreds, whole homes washed out to sea. (At the bottom of this story, find links about how you can help the Bahamas.) Here’s what they’re seeing so far:
This is one of the worst hit spots in #MarshHarbour Locals say it’s called the “Mud” and that it has a large population of Hatian immigrants. Hopefully they evacuated to a shelter bc the damage is catastrophic there. #TheBahamas @accuweather @breakingweather pic.twitter.com/GxsaLU4sAI
— Jonathan Petramala (@jpetramala) September 3, 2019
“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic. It looks like a bomb went off,” said Lia Head-Rigby, who flew over the Bahamas’ Abaco Island. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.” https://t.co/cFcevYid40 pic.twitter.com/G14wwlMZZd
— KTVU (@KTVU) September 4, 2019
NEW VIDEO- Horrific damage from Abaco, Bahamas from our Live Storms Media partners. We have more video coming up on Good Afternoon Arkansas at 3, Channel 7 News at 5, 6, and 10 #ARWX #Dorian pic.twitter.com/U6UT2FhrhP
— Todd Yakoubian (@KATVToddYak) September 3, 2019
Seemingly endless tragedy in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. pic.twitter.com/uWv4Rq6l3N
— Patrick Oppmann CNN (@CNN_Oppmann) September 1, 2019
Heartwrenching visuals incoming from the Bahamas. We’re getting our first look at the aftermath left behind by #HurricaneDorian Our hearts go out to those already affected by this historic storm. > https://t.co/f9fhfA4y2R pic.twitter.com/syscWnlaAZ
— WeatherNation (@WeatherNation) September 3, 2019
How you can help the Bahamas
- Donate to Global Giving’s disaster relief fund for Hurricane Dorian.
- Donate to the Red Cross’s Hurricane Dorian relief fund.
- Donate to Direct Relief’s Hurricane Dorian fund.
- The International Medical Corps is preparing an emergency response to Hurricane Dorian. Donate here.
- Find a list of needed supplies and locations to drop them off here.
Author: Brian Resnick