Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Hope Town before slamming into Marsh Harbour, Abaco, at 12:40 p.m. yesterday. The storm is lingering over Abaco, moving at a crawl of just 5 mph and headed toward Grand Bahama.
This monstrous storm exceeded every expectation, prediction and forecast. It grew to a strong Category 5 storm just ahead of its arrival at The Bahamas. Unpredictable in its path and strength, Dorian skirted Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, where mountains were expected to disorganize and weaken it. With winds topping 185 mph with gusts up to 220 mph, it is setting a record as one of, if not the strongest, storm to form in the Atlantic.
Abaco was about as ready as it was ever going to be for Dorian.
Homes and businesses were battened down and streets were mostly deserted. Hurricane supplies were secured and shelters opened and manned.
Voluntary evacuations from some of the offshore cays like Grand Cay in Abaco and Sweetings Cay in East Grand Bahama commenced as early as Wednesday past. These mainly involved senior citizens and children.
Early reports are that most tourists who wished to leave Abaco ahead of the storm were able to do so before the Leonard Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour closed on Saturday evening. By early afternoon on Sunday, the airport was overwhelmed by flood waters.
Many Bahamians, long accustomed to and hardened by summer storms, announced their determination to hunker down and ride the storm out whether on the outlying Abaco cays of Grand Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Guana Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Elbow Cay (Hope Town) or on the mainland. Voluntary evacuees from these cays, except Grand Cay, were minimal, totaling 12, we are told.
The last boat, manned by volunteers, departed Grand Cay for Grand Bahama with 41 evacuees in the early hours of Sunday morning. Some 202 souls remained on the cay, secure in their belief that their well-built homes or the secure public buildings like the school and the administrator’s offices would provide safe harbor from the storm. Up to 5:30 p.m. those residents continued to report inclement but not dangerous conditions on the cay.
Videos making the rounds on social media in the early afternoon yesterday and reports emanating from Miami’s ABC channel 10 News revealed harrowing damage to property, especially in Central Abaco. Roofs ripped from homes, businesses and from at least one unofficial hurricane shelter. Overturned and smashed vehicles, flooded roads and seas overrunning docks, marinas and sea defenses in a number of Abaco settlements including Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and further north in Green Turtle Cay and Cooper’s Town foretell the destruction likely to be revealed in the aftermath of the hurricane.
We have been impressed and grateful for the live coverage of conditions in the Abacos from Miami’s Channel 10 News, which had a team of reporters based in March Harbour, particularly as ZNS chose to provide its “live coverage” of the storm from New Providence and its service in Grand Bahama. It is not clear to us why the national radio station decided not to deploy reporters and cameramen to Abaco.
We are relieved by a Ministry of Health report that up to 6 p.m. on Sunday, there had been no reports of serious injury and no reported fatalities resulting from the storm.
The devastation taking place in Abaco is a good advisory to all residents of Grand Bahama who are next in the direct path of this horrendous storm.
We urge and encourage all to follow closely the advice and recommendations of NEMA and the meteorological office and to take all necessary action to remain safe.