Hurricane Joaquin sweeping across central, eastern Bahamas
Powerful Hurricane Joaquin bore down yesterday on the lightly populated islands of the central and eastern Bahamas, and forecasters said it could grow more intense while following a path that would near the US East Coast by the weekend.
Some minor flooding and storm surge were reported, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or significant damage as the storm reached the island chain, said Captain Stephen Russell, the director of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency.
Islands such as San Salvador, Cat Island, and Rum Cay were expected to be hit hardest before the storm begins an expected shift toward the north, forecasters said.
"Everyone is just trying to get their stuff battened down," said Frances Missick, chief councillor of Rum Cay, which has a population of about 100 and 40 homes.
Missick and other people on the small island gathered in a shelter set up at the St Christopher Anglican Church. As of yesterday, there was only some minor flooding and power and water were still running.
Flooding was reported across parts of Long Island, but no one had been injured, said Parliament member Loretta Butler Turner.
"We will have to wait for the winds to die down before we can go out and really assess the damage," she said.
Joaquin was a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) and hurricane-strength winds extending 45 miles (75 kilometres) from the eye, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said. As of 11 a.m. EDT, the centre of the storm was passing over the uninhabited Samana Cays, Bahamas, and was moving west-southwest at 6 mph (9 kph).