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Hurricane Dorian cripples Bahamas

By AP | Last updated: Sep 4, 2019 - 10:15:03 AM

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FREEPORT, Bahamas—Hurricane Dorian hovered over the Bahamas on, pummeling the islands with a fearsome Category 4 assault that shredded roofs, hurled cars and forced even rescue crews to take shelter until the onslaught passes.

Scenes of devastation on Abaco (via Twitter)

At presstime, the storm’s top sustained winds fell slightly to 155 mph and its westward movement slowed almost to a standstill. The system crawled along Grand Bahama Island at just one mph and was expected to generate a storm surge of 18 to 23 feet.

By late morning, Sept. 2 the water had already reached roofs and the tops of palm trees in Grand Bahama. One woman filmed floodwaters lapping at the stairs of her home’s second floor.

In Freeport, Dave Mackey recorded video showing water and floating debris surging around his house as the wind shrieked outside.

On Sept. 1, Dorian churned over Abaco Island with battering winds and surf and unleashed heavy flooding as people called radio stations and sent desperate messages on social media to find loved ones.

“We received catastrophic damage here in Abaco,” Parliament member Darren Henfield told reporters. He said officials did not have information yet on what happened in nearby cays. “We are in search-and-recovery mode. ... Continue to pray for us.”

Information began emerging from other affected islands, with Bahamas Power and Light spokesman Quincy Parker telling radio station ZNS that there was a total blackout in New Providence, the archipelago’s most populous island. He also said the company’s office in Abaco island was flattened by the storm.

“The reports out of Abaco as everyone knows,” Mr. Parker said as he paused for a deep sigh, “were not good.” At presstime, five deaths had been reported.

Most people went to shelters as the storm neared. Tourist hotels shut down, and residents boarded up their homes. But many people were left homeless.

On Sept. 1, Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reached 185 mph, with gusts up to 220 mph, tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall. That equaled the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

Dorian first came ashore Sept. 1 at Elbow Cay in Abaco Island, then made a second landfall near Marsh Harbor. A storm surge was reported at 18 to 23 feet.

The Bahamas archipelago is no stranger to hurricanes. Homes are required to have metal reinforcements for roof beams to withstand winds into the upper limits of a Category 4 hurricane, and compliance is generally tight for those who can afford it. Risks are higher in poorer neighborhoods, with wooden homes in low-lying areas. (AP)