Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, continues to pummel the Bahamas, where it has killed at least five people and destroyed thousands of homes, The New York Times reported.
“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas,” Prime Minister Hubert A. Minnis said at a press conference Monday reported by The New York Times. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders.”
When Dorian made landfall in the Abaco Islands Sunday as a Category 5 hurricane, it was the strongest storm to ever hit the chain, NPR reported. It made landfall with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, tying with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the strongest winds at landfall of any Atlantic hurricane, according to The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
As of Sept. 1, Dorian had broken a number of other records. It is the strongest storm ever east of Florida and north of the Caribbean, and it intensified at record speed Sunday when its winds strengthened from 150 to 185 miles per hour within a nine hour period. It is also the fifth Category 5 hurricane to form in the Atlantic in the last four years, making 2019 the fourth year in a row with a Category 5 storm, something that has never happened before.
Dorian’s strength and rapid intensification are both in keeping with predictions for how the climate crisis will shape hurricanes, The Washington Post said.
After lashing the Abaco Islands, where all of the deaths reported so far occurred, the storm stalled over Grand Bahama for most of Monday, The New York Times reported. It is still “nearly stationary” over the island, according to a 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, but is expected to begin moving north or northwest Tuesday morning.
Dorian has unleashed massive flooding in Abaco and Grand Bahama, which are home to 70,000 people, The Guardian reported. One radio station said that it received more than 2,000 distress calls, and at least two shelters have flooded. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimated that 13,000 homes may have been damaged or destroyed.
In one neighborhood in Freeport, Grand Bahama, water levels rose six feet.
“It looks like they’re boats on top of the water,” 61-year-old resident Rosa Knowles-Bain told The Guardian of flooded homes.
Another Freeport resident LaToy Williams shared video footage of his submerged yard on Twitter, as AccuWeather reported.
The storm, now a Category 3 hurricane, is predicted to move “dangerously close” to Florida’s East Coast Tuesday and Wednesday and “very near” the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday and Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It will arrive “near or over” the North Carolina coast late Thursday.
Nine Florida counties have issued mandatory evacuations ahead of Dorian’s arrival, The Guardian reported. Among them are Duval County, which covers the city of Jacksonville, and Palm Beach County, where President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located. Coastal counties in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia have also ordered evacuations.