Mon | Sep 23, 2019

Hurricane Dorian triggers massive flooding across Bahamas

Published:Monday | September 2, 2019 | 2:23 PM
Strong winds from Hurricane Dorian blow the tops of trees and brush while whisking up water from the surface of a canal that leads to the sea, located behind the brush at top, seen from the balcony of a hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Monday, September 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa).

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

The fearsome Category 4 storm slowed almost to a standstill as it shredded roofs, hurled cars and forced even 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-month-old 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.

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

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.

On nearby Abaco Island, Parliament member Darren Henfield said he received reports of deaths but officials had not been able to confirm them.

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 2:00 p.m. EDT Monday, the storm’s top sustained winds fell slightly to 150 miles per hour.

It was crawling along Grand Bahama Island at just one mile per hour.

The water reached roofs and the tops of palm trees. One woman filmed water lapping at the stairs of her home’s second floor.

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