The whipping winds and ominous clouds have slid away from the Bahamas. Under clear skies, survivors are only just grasping the scope of what’s left behind.
Dorian, the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Caribbean islands, was merciless. The storm swept into the Bahamas on Sunday and held on for nearly two full days.
The islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas got the brunt of the storm, which levelled neighbourhoods, destroyed infrastructure and claimed many lives.
The death toll — sitting at 30 as of Friday — has been described as a gross underestimate.
Tremendous landscapes of broken buildings and overturned boats have made the damage assessment a slow process.
In Abaco, photographs suggest next to nothing was left untouched by Dorian.
A man walks through the rubble in the aftermath of hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. (Reuters)
An Abaco neighbourhood known as “the Mudd” faces some of the most severe circumstances.
The area was built over decades by Haitian migrants and was nearly flattened in a matter of hours by Dorian.
WATCH: Bahamas residents share stories of survival and death after Dorian
Residents picked through piles of plywood and mountains of debris on Friday, occasionally coming across bodies of Dorian’s victims.
A Reuters photographer who captured what’s left of the community said he’s “never seen anything like it.”
“The smell of death hung in the air.”
According to reports from the storm-stricken community, the piles of rubble stand four to five feet and spread across an area equal to several football fields.
The conditions have hindered recovery efforts so far.
The search for victims and survivors continued Friday in the northern islands, five days after the hurricane first struck.
Aid has started to stream in — blankets, meal packs, water bottles and other necessities — but officials are still surveying the extent of the need. Groups like the Red Cross and UNICEF are asking for financial donations to help teams on the ground.
Some people have opted to try and evacuate Abaco.
At the port in Grand Abaco, people lined up behind a yellow cloth tape as early as 1 a.m., hoping to get on a boat or helicopter to Nassau.
The Bahamian Health Ministry said transportation was on the way, but cautioned that the severe flooding in the area could slow things down.
“It’s chaos in here,” Gee Rolle told The Associated Press.
Rolle was waiting with his wife for a boat to take them off Abaco.
“The government is trying their best, but at the same time, I don’t think they’re doing a good enough job to evacuate the people. It ain’t livable for nobody. Only animals can live here.”
Since releasing its grasp on the Bahamas, hurricane Dorian set its sights on the United States.
The storm weakened significantly since it bore down on the Carribean. Despite being the initial target, Flordia was only brushed with the storm mid-week.
The now-Category 1 hurricane briefly made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, flooding homes and streets. The storm whipped up more than a dozen tornadoes and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people.
The National Hurricane Center said life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds were still a threat for the Carolinas for much of the day before the storm creeps toward its next victim.
It is expected to bring tropical storm conditions to Massachusetts early on Saturday before making landfall in Nova Scotia.
Still, the damage in the Carolinas was far less than what many had feared.
— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press
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