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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS/ABACA Locals observe damage caused by Dorian in Georgia.
hurricane season

Hurricane Dorian strengthens to category 3 storm as it heads up the US coastline

The storm has already claimed at least 20 lives in the Bahamas

HURRICANE DORIAN HAS been upgraded to a category 3 storm as it tracks north along the eastern US coast having already wreaked havoc in the Bahamas over the past two days. 

The storm has claimed at least 20 lives in the Bahamas, prime minister Hubert Minnis said warning that it had caused “generational devastation” on the islands. 

The US Coast Guard and Britain’s Royal Navy airlifted survivors and ferried in emergency supplies as floodwaters receded and the center of the strengthening storm continued toward South Carolina.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian, which has already wrought major damage on its course through the Atlantic, was packing maximum sustained winds of 185km per hour, making it a Category 3 storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.

The United Nations said 70,000 people on Grand Bahama and Abaco islands were in “immediate need” of aid.

Minnis also issued a warning to looters, saying they will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law” and announced the deployment of additional police and defense force officers.

Shelter, safe drinking water, food and medicine were urgently needed for some 50,000 people on Grand Bahama and between 15,000 and 20,000 on Abaco, UN emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock said after a meeting with the prime minister.

“Speed is of the essence,” Red Cross official Stephen McAndrew said of rescue operations on the two northernmost islands in the Bahamas archipelago.

Among the many charities deployed, chef Jose Andres and his organization World Central Kitchen are working on the island of Abaco.

“Hopefully I will restore the faith and the soul and the hope of the people one meal at a time,” he said.

People on Grand Bahama were using jet skis and boats to rescue victims from flooded homes.

US and British helicopters were conducting medical evacuations, aerial assessments to help coordinate relief efforts, and reconnaissance flights to assess the damage.

President Donald Trump spoke by telephone to the Bahamian leader and pledged US assistance, the White House said.

“A big section of the Bahamas was hit like few people have seen before,” Trump said. “They need a big hand.”

Aerial footage showed scenes of catastrophic damage in Abaco with hundreds of homes missing roofs, cars submerged or overturned, widespread flooding and boats reduced to matchwood.

- © AFP 2019

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