Not long after Hurricane Dorian started its trail of destruction on Grand Bahama, voice notes circulated of residents crying for help in apparent desperation — many of them had scrambled to their attics and other high points in their homes as a powerful and terrifying storm surge rushed in, creating nightmarish scenarios.
In one voice note, a resident, who said she was in Heritage, Grand Bahama, appealed for anyone to come and rescue her and her family.
“I live in Heritage number 23; I need help,” the woman said. “Me and my six grandchildren and my son, we are in the ceiling; the water rise in Heritage; nobody wants us to come out. All the neighbors, everyone is in the ceiling; can someone please come and rescue us, please. Everyone is in the ceiling and the water is rising fast.”
Many residents called into live broadcasts pleading to be rescued as the storm, with wind speeds of 165 mph, unleashed a merciless assault.
Other voice notes circulated calling for people with small boats and jet skis to help in rescue efforts.
As night fell over Grand Bahama, Dorian was stationary and many Bahamians on other islands and outside the country were increasingly gripped by a sense of dread.
Harrowing videos also surfaced depicting chunks of the northern Bahamian island submerged in dark-colored water, which covered the tops of trees and swallowed the rims of basketball hoops.
Some videos also showed water leveled with roofs.
One video depicted a large tractor slowly moving through mass flooding during a search and rescue mission in Arden Forest, Freeport.
The tumultuous surges terrified residents, like 26-year-old Sheryl Lewis, who was stuck in the attic of her West Grand Bahama home up to 5 p.m. yesterday.
Dorian – now deemed the worst hurricane to strike the northern Bahamas – roared outside, unleashing its fury upon any and everything in its path.
Inside the single-storey family home, Lewis and her three relatives were cramped into a small attic.
They had already been trapped there for more than five hours.
“It’s horror,” Lewis told The Nassau Guardian from the attic.
Describing the water level in the home, she said, “It is over your waist. I’m probably 5’5” and it’s close to my chest.
“All I could think of at that time is that me and my family needed to get out, but once we opened the door…more water came in.”
Lewis said she thought she would die.
“It was basically everything flashing before my eyes at once from the beginning of moving into this house and not expecting something like this to happen,” she said.
However, as Dorian continued on its path of destruction, more Grand Bahamians were left in similar conditions as Lewis and her family.
Lena Chandler, 48, sent The Nassau Guardian footage of water slowly creeping up the sides of her two-storey house in Queens Cove, which was one of the government’s targeted evacuation zones.
“It’s six feet and it’s pretty much staying at this level right now,” she said shortly after 8 a.m. “It’s not rising anymore.”
Roughly an hour later, Chandler sent another video depicting the lower level of her home submerged.
She said a hurricane window had “completely ripped out of the wall”.
By noon, Chandler had a grim view of her situation.
“We are in trouble but will tie ourselves together and float if we have to,” she said.
The second level of Chandler’s home began to fill with water shortly before 3 p.m. with surges gushing from the outside and from downstairs.
‘Life or death’
Many Grand Bahamians expressed fear after receiving emotional cries for help from relatives trapped on roofs and other places in their homes.
Jamie Rose, 44, whose parents live in Emerald Bay, said they were facing a life or death scenario.
“They’re basically sitting in a fish tank looking out at the water hitting the windows,” he said.
“There’s a group of them there and they’re getting ready to go into the attic because if the windows fail on the windward side the debris is going to come in. That would be catastrophic.”
Zario Saunders, 44, a resident of North Bahamia, shared a similar story.
“I have a situation with my parents,” he said.
“They are up in the attic over the bridge and the water is leveled with the roof.
“They are not okay. We are trying to get people up there but it’s so strong and the winds are still up.”
He said his parents had been waiting to be rescued from that attic since 4 a.m.
Dorian is the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in The Bahamas.
While the hurricane’s wind intensity decreased from its height of 185 mph, it remained an extremely dangerous category 4 storm yesterday.
It was moving at a speed of one mph up until 6 p.m., according to the National Hurricane Center.
“This is a life-threatening situation,” an earlier advisory said.