As Hurricane Dorian finally pulled out of the Bahamas Tuesday night, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis had a grim assessment of the devastation caused by the storm, which had pummeled the islands for three straight days.
“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.”
Residents, rescue workers, and officials will finally have a chance to survey the damage wrought by the slow-moving storm. At least seven casualties have been reported, with the Washington Post reporting that children are believed to be among the dead. That number is expected to rise as searches continue; flooding has obstructed rescue efforts over the last couple days.
As multiple outlets have reported, the northern islands of the Bahamas were hardest hit by the deadly hurricane, which made landfall as a Category 5 storm. Much of Grand Bahama Island is underwater as a result of the storm, which brought 30 inches of rain and storm surges of up to 23 feet. Abaco was also hard hit by Dorian. CBS News, citing figures from The Red Cross, reports that nearly half the homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama—some 13,000 houses—have been damaged or outright destroyed.
“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic,” Lia Head-Rigby, who runs a local storm relief group, told the AP. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.”
Relief efforts are expected to ramp up in the islands Wednesday, with the country’s capital of Nassau expected to play a crucial role as a hub. Dorian, meanwhile, is making its way toward the southeast coast of the United States, with five states—Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia—declaring a state of emergency (as of Wednesday morning, Donald Trump had approved emergency funding for all but Virginia, according to NBC News).
While Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, officials are warning that water levels and strong winds pose a major threat to those in the storm’s path. As the New York Times reports, the Carolinas could see storm surges between 4 and 7 feet above ground over the next couple days.
Those interested in helping relief efforts in the Bahamas can consider donating to the following organizations:
- For emergency supplies and longterm rebuilding: Global Giving
- For meals and food deliveries: chef José Andrés World Central Kitchen is already in the Bahamas
- The Salvation Army is joining efforts with the Bahamanian National Emergency Management Agency, according to Prime Minister Minnis
- Locally-run organization HeadKnowles has previously coordinated relief efforts for Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Joaquin
- Charity Navigator has also identified reputable organizations providing emergency shelter, medical care, and food deliveries