The official death toll in the Bahamas has been placed at seven people following the destruction of Hurricane Dorian. The storm lingered over the archipelago for three days straight, and the effects were devastating. Now, the islands are trying to account for their losses and recover.
The Bahamas took the brunt of a storm that was originally expected to hit Florida at full force. Instead, Hurricane Dorian slowed to a mere 1 mile per hour, hovering over the Bahamas during the worst of its conditions. On Tuesday night, Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis gave a press conference about the islands' losses.
"We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country's history," Minnis said, according to CBS News. "It is going to require a massive coordinated effort to rebuild."
Rescue efforts are still underway, but so far the seven casualties we know of have been confirmed. According to the Washington Post, multiple children are in that death toll.
In addition, first responders say that the death toll will likely rise in the coming days. Many people are missing and unaccounted for on the islands, and some areas are obstructed, leaving rescuers unable to reach areas where survivors may be trapped.
One of the biggest problems for rescuers is that so much of Grand Bahama Island remains underwater. Hurricane Dorian brought about 30 inches of rain to the island, contributing to flooding already caused by a storm surge of about 23 feet. Satellite images published by CNN show how much land mass is still underwater.
This included the big island's airport, which is still impossible to access, making aid that much more difficult. However, NBC News reports that relief efforts will finally begin in earnest on Wednesday, centering around the capital city of Nassau. Beyond the saving of lives, the recovery effort will involve more starting from scratch than salvage.
"It's total devastation. It's decimated. Apocalyptic," said local storm relief organizer Lia Head-Rigby. "It's not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again."0comments
Hurricane Dorian has now fallen from a Category 5 to a Category 2 as it continues to crawl up the Atlantic. However, experts say that it is still a potentially dangerous storm, and should not be underestimated. States of emergency are still in effect in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.