The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas could cost “hundreds of millions, if not billions” of dollars to repair, according to the deputy prime minister, as aerial images showed whole neighborhoods destroyed.
With at least seven reported dead and scores more still missing, helicopters operated by the U.S. Coast Guard among others were delivering emergency supplies to residents on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, the two worst hit locations in the Caribbean nation.
“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic,” said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief group, after flying over the Abaco Islands. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.”
She said her representative on Abaco told her there were “a lot more dead,” though she could not provide numbers, as bodies were still being gathered. Images on local media showed bodies being put on a truck, and there were fears others may have been washed out to sea during the storm surges that inundated the islands.
According to reports early on Wednesday, some people remained stuck on rooftops waiting to be rescued. The death toll is expected rise in the coming days.
As the storm diminished from a powerful Category 5 and moved on toward the U.S. coast, the full scale of the damage started to be revealed, with airports underwater and whole residential neighborhoods smashed by pounding waves and winds that reached 185 miles per hour. Initial assessments suggested that thousands of buildings had been damaged, some beyond repair, while people took shelter in cramped attic spaces to escape the rising floodwaters.
Aerial and satellite images showed floodwaters covering much of the northern islands.
The health minister, Duane Sands, said Hurricane Dorian left the main hospital on Grand Bahama unusable, while the hospital at Marsh Harbor on Abaco was in need of food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He said crews were trying to evacuate up to seven kidney failure patients from Abaco who had not received dialysis since Friday.