A Category 5 storm – Hurricane Dorian – touched down on the Abacos Islands on Sunday afternoon. With sustained winds of 180 mph (289 kph) and gusts of 220 mph (354 kph), the storm is the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to make landfall since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis broke down in tears at a news conference where he said he could only hope that those who refused to evacuate would survive the storm, the Nassau Guardian reported Sunday.
“This is probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people,” Minnis said. “As a physician, I’ve been trained to withstand many things, but never anything like this.”
Local officials pleaded for those in Dorian’s path to make for higher ground, those that remained caught the storm’s awesome power on video. Torrents of flood water followed the winds, churning through streets and threatening to sweep away entire buildings.
— Angel Elemiah *️⃣ (@MaximoSPQR) September 1, 2019
— MVP (@mvp242) September 1, 2019
Once the eye of the storm was overhead, some locals ventured out to record the damage left behind. Cars, trees, houses and utility poles had been tossed around by the storm, with some structures completely leveled.
— Brian (@crabanddough) September 1, 2019
— Brenn🍒✨ (@Brendeaaa) September 1, 2019
As the relatively calm eye of the storm passed, the National Hurricane Center warned locals to return to shelter immediately, as winds could unexpectedly pick up again at any moment.
— Garrett Black (@GBlack22wx) September 1, 2019
Dorian is expected to pass over the Abacos later on Sunday evening, before hitting Grand Bahama. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced an evacuation order for parts of Grand Bahama and urged all tourists to leave the area.
From Grand Bahama, Dorian is forecast to track northwards slowly and to graze along the east coast of Florida. Residents of the Sunshine State have already begun stockpiling supplies and boarding up buildings, while at least one county has issued an evacuation order.