Hurricane Dorian leaves trail of destruction in the Bahamas

Thursday, September 5, 2019

United States Coast Guard emergency response efforts yesterday.
Image: USCG.

As the slow-moving tropical cyclone known as Hurricane Dorian finally cleared the Bahamas yesterday, the level of destruction left in its wake began to emerge. Dorian made its initial landfall as a Category 5 hurricane in the Abaco Islands on Sunday. Its wind speeds reached 185 mph (~295 km/h), tied for the strongest sustained winds at landfalling on record, according to the National Hurricane Center.

After landfall, the speed at which Dorian moved slowed down dramatically, resulting in a very long stay over the island of Grand Bahama. In a thirty hour period of Monday and Tuesday, Dorian only traversed thirty miles, according to CNN. The National Hurricane Center said all tropical storm warnings were lifted as of yesterday morning and Dorian had also been downgraded to a Category 2 storm.

Dorian at 2:16 a.m. local time (0616 UTC) Monday with the eastern part of Grand Bahama visible in the eye of the storm.
Image: NOAA.

According to the BBC, residents were doing most rescue work themselves using boats and personal watercraft. Prime minister Hubert Minnis said yesterday night that twenty people have been confirmed killed. "We expect that this number will increase", he noted.

"Parts of Abaco are decimated [...] There is severe flooding. There is severe flooding damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure", Minnis said. "The southern aspect of Abaco has suffered less devastation than the north. The Sandy Point area and progressing north has not suffered as much devastation that was seen in the Marsh Harbour vicinity. The international airport on Abaco is under water. The runway is currently flooded. In fact, the area around the airport now looks like a lake."

A large number of homes and other buildings in the affected areas have been destroyed with some estimates by the Red Cross and government officials ranging from 45% to 60% destruction. The United Nations said some 60 thousand people are in need of food and drinking water.

Dorian was northbound as it left the Bahamas.