Atlantic Ocean’s second most powerful storm, Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas leaving thousands of islands in devastated homes, crippled hospitals and no food and water.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at least seven people had been killed, with the full scope of the disaster on the tourism-dependent islands still unknown. “We can expect more deaths to be recorded,” Minnis told a news conference.
Emergency assistance including a Royal Navy ship carrying food supplies was already being deployed.
Rescuers were focussing on the battered Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.
Red cross said that more than 13,000 houses, or about 45 percent of the homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco, were believed to have been severely damaged or destroyed.
UN officials said more than 60,000 people on the hard-hit islands needed food, and the Red Cross said some 62,000 needed clean drinking water.
Theo Neilly, the Bahamian Consul General in Washington, DC, said authorities “have not been able to assess the damages on Grand Bahama Island just yet. We expect it to be very devastating and the damage to be extreme.”
Red Cross authorised $500,000 for the first wave of disaster relief and UN humanitarian teams stood ready to go into the stricken areas to help assess the damage and the country’s needs. The US government has also sent disaster response team.
Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, with a combined population of about 70,000, are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts. To the south, the Bahamas’ most populous island, New Providence, which includes the capital city, Nassau, and has more than a quarter of a million people, suffered little damage.
Bahamian officials received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes, and desperate callers trying to find loved ones left messages with local radio stations.
The US Coast Guard airlifted to safety at least 21 people who had been injured on Abaco. Rescuers also used jet skis to reach some people as choppy, coffee-coloured flood waters reached to the tops of palm trees.
Dorian pounded the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama for a day and a half winds up to 185 mph (295km/h) and torrential rain before finally moving into open waters on a course for Florida. Its winds slowed to a still-dangerous 110 mph (175 km/h).
More than two million people along the coast in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina were warned to leave. While the threat of a direct hit on Florida has largely evaporated, Dorian was expected to pass dangerously close to Georgia and South Carolina – and perhaps strike North Carolina – on Thursday or Friday.
Source : Various