Hurricane Dorian wrought devastation on the Bahamas Sunday night into Monday morning as it hammered the small Caribbean nation with sustained winds of 180 mph, and some gusts ranging up to 220 mph. The Category 5 storm inflicted massive amounts of property damage and destroying critical components of the Bahamanian infrastructure.
The fate of Florida remained uncertain as the storm continued its slow creep across the Atlantic. As of 3 am Monday morning, the storm was 125 miles away from the state’s east coast, Bloomberg reports.
As it moved across the northern Bahamas, the storm Dorian tore off roofs, flipped cars and eviscerated power lines. Fortunately, there have been no reported deaths, according to the island’s director of tourism, though a few dozen people had been hospitalized with injuries related to the storm.
“This is probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Sunday evening, crying during a press conference at the headquarters of the National Emergency Management Agency. “This will put us through a test that we’ve never confronted before.”
As Minnis pointed out, homes in the Bahamas are built to withstand hurricane-force winds. However, the island has never faced a storm like Dorian before. In some places – like the Abaco Islands – that were facing the brunt of the storm, it was impossible to tell where the street ended and the ocean began. Many people ignored mandatory evacuation orders in these areas, leaving many lives at risk.
“I wouldn’t want to be on the Abaco Islands, they are going to have 12 to 15 hours of hurricane force winds with only the eye as the respite,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground, an IBM business. “Everything in that eye is going to get totaled. It is going to take them years, if not a decade, to recover.”
Roughly one-quarter of the 370,000 people who live in the Bahamas would be impacted by the storm.
Scenes of devastation in the Marsh Harbour area of the Abaco Islands were shared on Twitter early Monday by resident Vernal Cooper, who sought shelter at a government building when the eye of the storm hit.
“There’s damages everywhere around my area,” Cooper told CNN, which posted his video on Monday night. “Cars and houses destroyed. This is what’s left of Marsh Harbour. This needs to end.”
Cooper described how the storm destroyed his home.
“The roof was blown off, with wind and rain battering inside the house. It was the single most scariest [sic] thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Power outages left people on Abaco without the ability to contact their relatives to let them know that they were still alive and okay.
“So many family members are worried,” Cooper said. Worried families posted pleas for information about their loved ones on social media after losing contact.
Meanwhile, in the southeastern US, Hurricane warnings and storm-surge warnings and watches had been posted for nearly all of Florida’s Atlantic coast, while Georgia and South Carolina announced mandatory evacuations in coastal areas.