An ABC correspondent on the ground in Marsh Harbour was more blunt. He said it was “pure hell.”
So far, Dorian has killed 20 people in the Bahamas, although officials there said the toll probably would rise. It has also caused a major humanitarian crisis, leaving as many as 70,000 people without water, food or medical supplies. See an aerial video showing the destruction here:
The storm first made landfall on Elbow Cay in the Abacos. It was the strongest storm since a hurricane hit the Florida Keys on Labor Day of 1935. Reports said that Hope Town on Elbow Cay was “a wreck.” Dorian then moved over to Marsh Harbour, before traveling a bit west to Grand Bahama Island.
Dorian basically stalled over Grand Bahama for more than 24 hours, moving at only 1 mph, dumping an enormous amount of water, before heading out over the Atlantic. It was expected to move north with winds and storm surge threatening the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coastlines in the next few days.
In the northern Bahamas, where the highest spots on the low-lying islands are only 40 feet above sea level, the storm surge was 12 to 18 feet above normal high tide. The International Red Cross said that 13,000 houses were damaged or destroyed. The U.S. Coast Guard airlifted 21 injured people to Nassau.
The Bahamas Press said the entire town of Marsh Harbour was swamped. The airport was underwater. Social media said that homes were under water on nearby Treasure Cay, and that the popular Nippers on Great Guana Cay was badly damaged. People were reported trapped in damaged homes on Green Turtle Cay. The Prime Minister said that downtown Freeport was under three feet of water, including the ground floor and the emergency room of Rand Memorial Hospital.
Videos on social media showed people stranded on their roof tops, pleading for help. A radio station in Freeport received more than 2,000 distress messages.
The U.S. Coast Guard sent four helicopters to Marsh Harbour, and two cutters are on the way. A Royal Navy ship with food and medical supplies also is underway. Read more: