Hurricane Dorian has left parts of tourism-dependent Bahamas in ruins and relief officials on Tuesday were preparing for an unfolding humanitarian crisis with the scale of the catastrophe only beginning to emerge.
Aerial video recorded over the Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island showed mile upon mile of flooded neighborhoods, pulverized buildings, upturned boats and shipping containers scattered like Lego toys. Many buildings that had not been flattened had walls or roofs partly ripped away.
While its winds had diminished to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, Dorian expanded in size and picked up speed on Tuesday. Forecasters said it would come “dangerously close” in the next 36 hours to Florida’s east coast, where more than a million people have been ordered evacuated.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis on Tuesday put the death toll at seven.
“We can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information,” Minnis told a news conference.
“Marsh Harbor has suffered, I would estimate, in excess of 60 percent damage to their homes,” Minnis said, referring to the port on Great Abaco. “The Mud, as we know, has been completely destroyed or decimated,” he said in reference to a shantytown known as The Mud and The Peas.
The Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center said storm surges in Grand Bahama were 12 feet to 18 feet (3.7-5.5 m) above normal tide levels.