The Bahamas hit by Hurricane Dorian, Coastal evacuation in the United States
Hurricane Dorian continued to rage Monday on the Bahamas, with thousands of homes washed away by torrential rains and winds nearing 300 km / h, a level unparalleled in the history of this Caribbean archipelago.
The cyclone continued its uncertain course towards the United States where the authorities ordered the preventive evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in the coastal regions.
In the Bahamas, no official indication of possible casualties was available immediately.
Hurricane Category 5, described as “catastrophic” by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), landed on Sunday at Elbow Cay, on the Abacos Islands in northwestern Bahamas, a country of some 700 islands.
According to the Miami-based NHC, Dorian matched the 1935 record of the most powerful hurricane in the Atlantic when he landed. Images circulating on social networks showed significant destruction.
“We are facing a hurricane (…) as we have never seen in the history of the Bahamas,” said Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister of this archipelago of some 700 islets between Florida, Cuba and Haiti . “It’s probably the saddest day of my life,” he added, in tears.
Videos posted on the website of the Bahamas’ Tribune 242 newspaper showed gigantic waves reaching the roofs of wooden houses, capsized boats floating in muddy water amidst tree branches, planks and other debris.
“People are still traumatized by Matthew (in 2016) but it’s even worse,” Yasmin Rigby, who lives in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, told AFP.
On the United States coast, after days of uncertainty about the hurricane, several southeastern states (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina) have finally ordered the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents.
According to the NHC, the hurricane will be “dangerously close” to the Florida coast in the night from Monday to Tuesday.
The eye of the cyclone was Monday 60 km east of Freeport and was moving at a very low speed towards the west, said the NHC who urged residents to stay safe.
“Do not get out of your shelters during the passage of the eye, because the winds will increase quickly on the other side,” warned the institute.
According to early rapid assessments on Monday of Red Cross authorities and officials in the field, some 13,000 homes may have been damaged or destroyed and the hurricane caused “considerable damage” in the Abacos and Grand Bahama Islands.
“We do not yet have a complete picture of what happened. But it is clear that Hurricane Dorian had a catastrophic impact, “said Sune Bulow, head of the Emergency Operations Center of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). ). The IFRC has committed approximately € 230,000 from its emergency fund for first aid.
According to NHC director Ken Graham, the Bahamas will be subject to the furious winds and torrential rains caused by the hurricane for the next 30 hours.
In Washington, US President Donald Trump has gathered emergency service leaders, referring to a hurricane that “looks monstrous.”
“We expect a lot of the coastline to be impacted and some of it will be very, very badly,” he said.
State of emergency and evacuations
After the Bahamas, the hurricane is heading towards the east coast of the United States, but it is difficult to predict how much it will hit the “Sunshine State”.
According to the American Red Cross, 19 million people live in areas that could be affected. Up to 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina may need emergency shelter depending on its impact.
In South Carolina, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Sunday declared a state of emergency, stressing: “The strength and unpredictability of the storm compels us to prepare for all scenarios.” He ordered the mandatory evacuation of the state’s coast, a measure affecting about 800,000 inhabitants.
The state of emergency had already been declared in Florida and in a dozen counties in Georgia. This measure makes it possible to better mobilize public services and, if necessary, to use federal assistance.
Compulsory evacuation has also been ordered for the coastal areas of Palm Beach and Martin counties in Florida and for six coastal counties in Georgia.
Florida, mostly a peninsula, is on the front line of the hurricane season every year.
According to a relief coordinator, 12,000 soldiers are in Florida waiting for Dorian to arrive.
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