The Bahamas is trying to come to terms with the unrelenting brutal battering it suffered from the most powerful and destructive hurricane to have made landfall there.
Over a period of more than 24 hours from Sunday well into Monday, Category Five-rated Hurricane Dorian pounded the northern Bahamas islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with ferocious winds, incessant rainfall and storm surges.
Sustained winds of 185 miles an hour with gusts up to 220 miles an hour, and storm surges of over 20 feet accompanied by torrential rainfall wreaked havoc across those two islands in particular.
The hurricane which was already moving very slowly at around eight miles an hour - increasing the potential for damage - had reportedly crawled to an almost standstill overnight Sunday into early Monday, according to reports from Nassau.
Category Five is the most severe rating for hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson scale where damage is expected to be catastrophic.
There was already evidence of that on Sunday with riveting images on social media as well as mainstream media showing pictures of the extent of the early devastation.
One widely-circulated image showed a clearly distressed Prime Minister Hubert Minnis reportedly in tears over the damage sustained to the islands from the relentless onslaught of Hurricane Dorian.
In a Twitter statement he had also said “this is the saddest and worst day for me to address the Bahamian people.”
“We are facing a hurricane that we have never seen in The Bahamas. Pray for us.”
A video of an anguished appeal for prayers by one Abaco resident trapped in the raging fury of the storm went viral. She too appealed to the world to pray for her and her country.
Storm surges turned streets into rivers and neighbourhoods into lakes in low-lying Abaco as the powerful storm slowly crawled across the island (population 17,000) and headed towards the more developed and heavily populated Grand Bahamas (population 51,000).
The population of the Bahamas is around 350,000. The archipelago spans a distance of over 500 miles from just off south-eastern Florida to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The main island New Providence(population 246,000) where the nation’s capital Nassau is located, escaped relatively unscathed,although there were reports of water damage and power outages.
But as daylight broke on Monday, the full extent of the horrific destruction on the island of Abaco became clear.
With Grand Bahama then feeling the full brunt of the hurricane, packing winds down to 160 miles an hour but almost stationary, it was clear that damage on the tourism dependent island known for its massive resorts would run into the multiple billions of dollars.
Damage in the Bahamas was restricted for the most part to the northern quadrant of the huge archipelago of over 700 islands, 30 of which are inhabited.
But it was the early heart-wrenching images from the island of Abaco in the north-east Bahamas uploaded to social media by residents as well as local television news reports first conveyed the horror that had befallen that island.
Shocking scenes of extensive property damage were captured on smartphones and uploaded by terrified residents in the eerie calm as the eye of the storm passed.
The eye of a passing hurricane offers a few minutes of deceptive calm as the winds return with even more ferocity from the opposite direction.
The Category Five storm had slowed to less than eight miles an hour as it first shredded its way across the northern islands of the Bahamas chain on Sunday.
At press time there were no official reports of loss of life, however, local authorities had warned that the intense hurricane posed what they called ‘a life-threatening situation”. (Updates are on the Caymanian Times website and Facebook page).
Hurricane Dorian had meandered its way across the Caribbean, first as a Tropical Storm and then as Category One hurricane, causing some damage - mainly flooding - but missing most of the islands.
But its sudden intensification unleashed its ferocity on the northern Bahamas on Sunday as it headed into Florida where it was again expected to change direction and head north up the eastern seaboard of the United States towards Georgia and the Carolinas.
President Donald Trump’s beloved Mar-a-Lago Club resort on Palm Beach in Florida was feared to be in the path of the hurricane.
President Trump said on Sunday that he wasn’t “sure that I've ever even heard of a Category Five” hurricane, despite four storms of that magnitude hitting the US since he’s been in office.
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