Parts of Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian 48 hours later
The prime minister of the Bahamas said parts of his country, which is just 200 miles southeast of Florida, were in “the midst of a historic tragedy.” Hurricane Dorian was stuck in place over the island nation, pounding the northern Bahamas for nearly 48 hours.
And we heard from people who said there is nothing left.
Until late Tuesday afternoon, Wendy Fulton in Fort Myers could not get in touch with her family in the Bahamas.
“She was very upset and all she could say, ‘You got to get us off this island. We have to get out of here,’” Fulton said.
Fulton’s sister, Katie, and her family live on Man-O-War Cay. A satellite phone call got through, but only for a moment, enough to let Fulton know they were alive.
“Everything is gone,” Fulton said. “Nothing is liveable. There’s no boats left. They have no way of getting off the island. Both ends of the harbor are completely blocked with debris, with boats.”
Fulton told us, based on her conversation with her sister, people need to be evacuated out of there immediately if not sooner.
“My sister’s lived there for 16 years,” Fulton said. “And they’ve gone through other storms, nothing like this. And to say that they have to get off, I know that they have to get off.”
But that kind of relief effort won’t get underway until Hurricane Dorian is far enough away.
Dorian has ravaged the Bahamas with torrential rains and wind gusts over 220 mph. According to the Red Cross, an estimated 13,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
Overwhelming storm surge swallowed entire neighborhoods. Video showed waist-deep water stretching for miles across the largely flat landscape.
Dorian’s punishing conditions were amplified when the storm stalled directly over Grand Bahama, crawling across the island at a speed of just 1 mph.
“The devastation is unprecedented and extensive,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.
Reports said some people on the islands were so desperate to get to safety they were forced to cut holes in their roofs as floodwaters surged into their homes.
Extensive flooding was believed to have contaminated many wells with salt water, creating an urgent need for clean water.
The Bahamas’ most populous island, New Providence, which is home to the city of Nassau, reportedly lost power more than two days ago.
The U.S. Coast Guard said four of its helicopters have been helping with rescues.
“Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery,” Minnis said.
The life-threatening conditions have strained search-and-rescue efforts as distress calls poured in. One woman told a local news station her 8-year-old grandson drowned in the rising waters.
“My grandson’s dead,” Ingrid McIntosh said. “I’d just seen my grandson about two days ago. My grandson just tell me he love me.”
Resident Kevin Tomlinson evacuated to a nearby shelter on Grand Bahama Island. He spoke overnight to correspondent David Begnaud by flashlight.
“You can feel the force and the pressure of the wind just biting against the building repeatedly, over and over, nonstop,” Tomlinson said. “But our hearts are still strong, and the spirit of the Bahamian people is still intact, and we will rise from this occasion.”
Most of Florida’s east coast could feel tropical-storm-force winds within the next 24 hours. 25 million people are in the projected path of Dorian.
When it does move, other parts of the Southeast are in line to see more of an impact.
Virginia joined four other states overnight in declaring a state of emergency.
Coastal communities from Florida up through South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate.