Miami, Sep 5 (IANS) Hurricane Dorian is expected to bring a “life-threatening storm surge” up the US east coast after causing widespread destruction and at least 20 deaths in the Bahamas.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called it “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history” as homes were wiped out, and in some cases, entire neighbourhoods were mashed into rubble.
The only international airport on the island of Grand Bahama was also ripped apart, media reports say.
Residents from Florida all the way up to Virginia were warned to listen to emergency advice as the category two hurricane slowly moved north. The hurricane weakened after hitting the Bahamas but has now strengthened again.
On September 1, it hit the Bahamas with winds of up to 185mph (298km/h) — equalling the highest ever recorded at landfall. It battered the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, in the north of the archipelago, for two days.
Bahamanian authorities put the official death toll due to Dorian at 20 although the figure was expected to go up as relief teams continued to reach severely impacted areas.
The UN’s relief chief, Mark Lowcock, said on Wednesday that northern Bahamas was “devastated” by the hurricane, “the like of which has never been seen here before”.
According to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC), Dorian was currently about 100 km south-east of Savannah in the state of Georgia and moving north at about 11 km/h.
The NHC warned that a “life-threatening storm surge with significant coastal flooding is expected along a large portion of the south-east and mid-Atlantic coasts of the US in the next couple of days”.
Dorian could move “near or over” the coast of South Carolina on Thursday night, then the coast of North Carolina the following day.
US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have announced to provide assistance to help the affected areas to recover.
Bahamian National Security Minister Marvin Dames said that there were more than 600 police and Marines on Grand Bahama Island and nearly 100 in the Abaco Islands to assist with the rescue operation, according to local media.
The US Coast Guard and NGOs were working on the ground to bring food and medicine to survivors.