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Hurricane Dorian lashes Carolinas after causing devastation in Bahamas

Many coastal Carolina residents heeded evacuation orders while others plan to ride out the tempest.

AFTER REDUCING MUCH of the northern Bahamas to rubble and leaving at least 20 people dead, Hurricane Dorian whipped the Carolinas today, bringing lashing winds, heavy rainfall and the threat of dangerous storm surge to the US east coast.

tropical-weather-south-carolina Johnny Crawford navigates his kayak down a flooded street in Charleston, South Carolina. Source: =2018565=

As a multi-national rescue effort ramped up for thousands of victims of Dorian on the northern Bahamas islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, residents of the Carolinas were bracing for the Category 2 storm.

In Charleston, South Carolina, wind gusts of 126 kph announced the storm’s approach, as did heavy rain and some flooding in low-lying downtown areas of the stately port city.

Many coastal Carolina residents heeded evacuation orders while others battened down their homes and businesses with plywood and prepared to ride out the tempest.

hurricane-dorian-approaches-us-shores Downed tree limbs on Calhoun Street at Marion Square in Charleston. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

At 11:00 am (15:00 GMT), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian had been downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm.

Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane – the highest on the five-level wind scale – when it slammed into the northern Bahamas, leaving a trail of unimaginable destruction.

The NHC said Dorian was packing winds of 175 kilometers per hour, down from 185 kph, and warned that storm surge could be as much as eight feet in some coastal areas.

The storm was located about 75 kilometers east-southeast of Charleston and moving up the coast in a north-northeasterly direction at 13 kph.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas are under evacuation orders as the United States girded for its taste of the storm that caused devastation in the Bahamas.

The full extent of the damage in the northern Bahamas was becoming known today as rescue teams fanned out searching for survivors and bringing relief to victims.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said yesterday that at least 20 people were killed in the storm which caused what he called “generational devastation.” The death toll is expected to rise.

‘Hell everywhere’

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

“It’s hell everywhere,” said Brian Harvey, a Canadian from Montreal, told AFP in Abaco.

“I was on my sailboat,” Harvey said. “I lost everything.”

bahamas-tropical-weather Source: AP/PA Images

“We need to get out of here,” he added. “It’s been four or five days. It’s time to move and get out of here.”

Steven Turnquest, who arrived in Nassau from Marsh Harbour with his four- and seven-year-old sons after weathering the storm, told AFP he was grateful to be alive.

“Looking at my sons I prayed to God, saying ‘If you’re gonna take of us, take me and let them live,’” Turnquest said.

“I survived the hurricane holding on to a door,” he added.

Shelter, 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 Minnis.

Amid fears of looting, Minnis warned that looters will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law,” and said additional police and defense force officers had been deployed.

“Speed is of the essence,” Red Cross official Stephen McAndrew said of rescue operations on the two northernmost islands in the Bahamas archipelago which were pummeled by one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record.

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

The US Coast Guard said it had rescued 135 people in the Bahamas as of Thursday using 10 helicopters and three Coast Guard cutters.

USAID, the US relief agency, said it was airlifting supplies such as plastic sheeting for shelter, hygiene kits and water from Miami.

- © AFP 2019

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