Storm blamed for 5 deaths

‘Ex­ten­sive’ dam­age in Ba­hamas; or­ders to evac­u­ate in SC

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Weis­senstein and Dan­ica Coto

NASSAU, Ba­hamas — Hur­ri­cane Do­rian un­leashed mas­sive flood­ing across the Ba­hamas on Mon­day, pum­mel­ing the is­lands with so much wind and wa­ter that au­thor­i­ties urged peo­ple to find flota­tion de­vices and grab ham­mers to break out of their at­tics if nec­es­sary.

At least five deaths were blamed on the storm.

“We are in the midst of a his­toric tragedy,” Prime Minister Hu­bert Min­nis said in an­nounc­ing the fa­tal­i­ties. He called the dev­as­ta­tion “un­prece­dented and ex­ten­sive.”

The fear­some Cat­e­gory 4 storm slowed al­most to a stand­still as it shred­ded roofs, hurled cars and forced res­cue crews to take shel­ter un­til the on­slaught passed.

Of­fi­cials said they re­ceived a “tremen­dous” num­ber of calls from peo­ple in flooded homes. A ra­dio sta­tion re­ceived more than 2,000 dis­tress mes­sages, in­clud­ing re­ports of a 5-mon­thold baby stranded on a roof and a grand­mother with six grand­chil­dren who cut a hole in a roof to es­cape ris­ing flood­wa­ters.

Other re­ports in­volved a group of eight chil­dren and five adults stranded on a high­way and two storm shel­ters that flooded.

The deaths in the Ba­hamas came af­ter a pre­vi­ous storm­re­lated fa­tal­ity in Puerto Rico. At least 21 peo­ple were hurt in the Ba­hamas and evac­u­ated by he­li­copters, the prime min­ster said.

Po­lice Chief Sa­muel But­ler urged peo­ple to re­main calm and share their GPS co­or­di­nates, but he said res­cue crews had to wait un­til weather con­di­tions im­proved.

“We sim­ply can­not get to you,” he told Ba­hamas ra­dio sta­tion ZNS.

Fore­cast­ers warned that Do­rian could gen­er­ate a storm surge as high as 23 feet.

Mean­while in the United States, the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter ex­tended watches and warn­ings across the Florida and Ge­or­gia coasts. Fore­cast­ers ex­pected Do­rian to stay off shore, but me­te­o­rol­o­gist Daniel Brown cau­tioned that “only a small de­vi­a­tion” could draw the storm’s dan­ger­ous core to­ward land.

By 5 p.m. EDT Mon­day, the storm’s top sus­tained winds fell slightly to 145 mph. It was crawl­ing along Grand Ba­hama Is­land at 1 mph and then re­mained sta­tion­ary.

The wa­ter reached roofs and the tops of palm trees. One woman filmed wa­ter 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.

“Our house is 15 feet up, and right now where that wa­ter is, is about 8 feet. So we’re pretty con­cerned right now be­cause we’re not at high tide,” said Mackey, who shared the video with The Associated Press. “Our garage door has al­ready come off. Once we come out of it with our lives, we’re happy.”

On Sunday, Do­rian churned over Abaco Is­land with bat­ter­ing winds and surf and heavy flood­ing.

Par­lia­ment mem­ber Dar­ren Hen­field de­scribed the dam­age as “cat­a­strophic” and said of­fi­cials did not have in­for­ma­tion on what hap­pened on nearby cays. “We are in search-an­drecov­ery mode. Con­tinue to pray for us.”

A spokesman for Ba­hamas Power and Light told ZNS that there was a black­out in New Prov­i­dence, the ar­chi­pel­ago’s most pop­u­lous is­land. He said the com­pany’s of­fice in Abaco is­land was flat­tened.

“The re­ports out of Abaco as ev­ery­one knows,” spokesman Quincy Parker said, paus­ing, “were not good.”

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

On Sunday, Do­rian’s max­i­mum sus­tained winds reached 185 mph, with gusts up to 220 mph, ty­ing the record for the most pow­er­ful At­lantic hur­ri­cane ever to 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.

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 that have wooden homes in low-ly­ing ar­eas.

Do­rian was likely to be­gin pulling away from the Ba­hamas early Tues­day and curv­ing to the north­east par­al­lel to the south­east­ern coast of the U.S. The sys­tem is ex­pected to spin 40 to 50 miles off Florida, with hur­ri­cane-force wind speeds ex­tend­ing about 35 miles to the west.

An ad­vi­sory from the hur­ri­cane cen­ter warned that Florida’s east-cen­tral coast could see a brief tor­nado some­time Mon­day af­ter­noon or evening.

A manda­tory evac­u­a­tion of the en­tire South Carolina coast took ef­fect Mon­day, cov­er­ing about 830,000 peo­ple.

Au­thor­i­ties in Florida or­dered manda­tory evac­u­a­tions in some vul­ner­a­ble coastal ar­eas.

TIM AYLEN/AP

A road is flooded Mon­day dur­ing the ad­vance of Hur­ri­cane Do­rian as the storm pummels Freeport, Grand Ba­hama.

JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

Sonya Temeloski clutches her um­brella dur­ing the on­slaught of rain and wind as Hur­ri­cane Do­rian makes its way to­ward the coast on Mon­day in Stu­art, Florida. Do­rian, once ex­pected to make land­fall along the coast, is pre­dicted to turn north, less­en­ing the im­pact.

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