Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the deaths “in the midst of a historic tragedy”, at a press conference yesterday.
NASSAU, The Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has confirmed at least five deaths in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas in what he yesterday described as a “historic tragedy”.
The dead include an eight-year-old boy who drowned as his family tried to relocate from their home in Abaco, as Hurricane Dorian passed over the island with heavy rains and Category 5 winds and even stronger gusts, destroying houses and leaving many homeless.
But even as residents and the government try to come to grips with the losses and rescue efforts begin, another Bahamian island – Grand Bahama – continues to be pounded by the hurricane which weakened slightly to a Category 3 system but came to a standstill as it continued to wreak havoc. The hurricane’s unrelenting assault, which began more than 24 hours ago, is expected to continue until this evening.
Confirming the loss of life and property at a press conference yesterday evening, Prime Minister Minnis said: “We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas. The images and videos we are seeing are heartbreaking. Many homes, businesses, and other buildings have been completely or partially destroyed.”
He added that the focus was on a search, rescue, and recovery.
“I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders,” the Prime Minister told those listening, adding that downtown Grand Bahama was under three feet of water, including the ground floor of its hospital and the prime minister’s office.
Dorian made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on Grand Bahama Island on Sunday night – after devastating the Abaco Islands earlier in the day – and battered the island throughout yesterday, slowing to a crawl before becoming stationary by late evening.
By 8 a.m. today, Hurricane Dorian, with maximum sustained winds down to 120 miles per hour, had started to inch northwestward at one mile per hour. But it was still located 40 miles northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama, and its southern eyewall continued to hammer the island.
“A slightly faster motion toward the northwest or north-northwest is expected later today and tonight. A turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn to the north-northeast Thursday morning. On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will gradually move north of Grand Bahama Island through this evening,” the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said. “The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late today through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday.”
Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days.
United States Coast Guard crews have rescued several injured residents in Abaco.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) said yesterday it hopes the all-clear will be given by tomorrow so it can send in a team to assess the situation. The hope had been that the all-clear would have been given by today, but the slow movement of the storm had eliminated that possibility.
“The implications of that is it will delay any ability to get into these two islands and to collect specific information on the level of the impact,” CDEMA executive director Ronald Jackson said at a press conference. “I know there are questions abound as to the casualties reported based on a number of reports on social media….People are trying to find out whether these numbers are indeed factual, whether they are higher, ….We don’t know.”
Although Prime Minister Minnis did not give details about the confirmed deaths from Hurricane Dorian, Ingrid McIntosh, the grandmother of eight-year-old Lachino McIntosh told local television station Eyewitness News yesterday that the boy had drowned in the rising waters.
Her 31-year-old daughter found the boy’s body, but his sister was missing.
“I just saw my grandson about two days ago,” McIntosh cried. “He told me he loved me. He was going back to Abaco, he turned around and said, ‘Grandma, I love you’.”