The UK’s foreign office has updated its travel advice for the Bahamas with this:
Hurricane Dorian is creating extremely dangerous storm surge, heavy rain and hurricane force winds in Abaco and Grand Bahama. Evacuation orders have been implemented for parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco. A hurricane alert is also in effect for New Providence, Eleuthera, North Andros, Bimini and the Berry Islands. You should follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local news and weather reports the US National Hurricane Center forecast.
Lynden Pindling international airport in Nassau has re-opened following an overnight closure due to the effects of Dorian. The ports and airports in Grand Bahama and Abaco are closed. You should continue to check with airlines and your local tour operator for any updates.
The UK has deployed three humanitarian experts to the Bahamas to begin immediate work on assessing the damage,
They left London this morning and are expected to arrive in the region later today.
The international development secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “I have sent an initial team of experts to the Bahamas to help assess the damage and coordinate the UK’s response, including any potential use of military assets if required.
The British Royal Navy auxiliary ship RFA Mounts Bay has been pre-positioned to the region to offer her support if required.
Bahamas Power and Light says there has been a total blackout in New Providence, the archipelago’s most populous island, AP reports.
It spokesman Quincy Parker told ZNS Bahamas radio station on Monday morning that crews are working to restore power on the island that lies south of the path that Hurricane Dorian is expected to take.
He said the Bahamas Power and Light office in Abaco, which was hit by the Category 5 storm on Sunday, has been flattened.
“The reports out of Abaco as everyone knows,” Parker said as he sighed, “were not good.” Parker said officials are anxious for the storm to pass so they can start rebuilding.
Mohammad Heidarzadeh, assistant professor of civil engineering and head of coastal engineering and resilience at London’s Brunel University, puts this hurricane in context:
“Dorian is a very special Hurricane in many ways. This is the fourth year running that we have Category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. With maximum wind speed of 300 kmh, Dorian is one of the strongest hurricanes ever formed outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Dorian is also one of the very rare (possibly the only) Category 5 hurricanes to hit Bahamas.
“It is not certain where exactly Dorian will head in the next days because hurricane routes are affected as they interact with land-forms, mountains and high-rise buildings. But based on past data, it is likely to hit the coasts of Florida in about 20-24 hours. The storm surge height is predicted to be 8-10 meters which implies severe flooding in coastal areas.
“It is very important to evacuate coastal areas and stay at least 5 km inland during the Dorian’s action.”
Dorian is still almost stalled over the Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is “moving little” west at 1mph with sustained winds of 165mph, according to its latest update.
Hurricane Dorian could cause insurance industry losses of up to $25bn (£20.7bn) according to analysts at UBS, Reuters reports.
UBS analysts updated their model to reflect a wider potential industry insured loss range of $5bn to $40bn and raised their base case to $25bn from $15bn, with solvency capital at risk.
The analysts estimate about $70bn of natural catastrophe losses for 2019 and added this could erode excess capital and raise prices.
Insurers faced record bills from hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires of over $135 billion in 2017 and got some relief in 2018.
Tropical storm force winds are already being felt in eastern Florida a day before Dorian is expected get much closer to the US coast.
13,000 houses severely damaged or destroyed in Bahamas.
Dorian has caused “extensive damage” across the Bahamas, according to the Red Cross which warned that as many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed.
“We don’t yet have a complete picture of what has happened,” Sune Bulow, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Emergency Operation Centre in Geneva, said in a statement.
“But it is clear that Hurricane Dorian has had a catastrophic impact,” he said, adding that “we anticipate extensive shelter needs, alongside the need for short-term economic support, as well as for clean water and health assistance.”
But IFRC said that up to 13,000 houses may have been severely impacted.
The organisation also warned that extensive flooding on the island of Abaco was believed to have contaminated wells with saltwater.
IFRC said it had released 250,000 Swiss francs ($252,000 or £209,000) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to bolster the initial response to the crisis, and to provide some 500 families with emergency shelter assistance.
The American Red Cross estimated that some 19 million people live in areas that could be impacted by the storm, with as many as 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina potentially in need of emergency shelter, depending on the impact.
IFRC said that hundreds of Red Cross volunteers, emergency response vehicles and more than 30 truck loads of relief supplies were being mobilised to help people living in the path of the hurricane.
Greogry Oravec, the mayor of Florida’s Port St Lucie where a mandatory evacuation order is in place, is watching the projected path of Dorian with growing alarm.
Speaking to CNN he said:
We are concerned about all aspects of the storm and it really boils down to weather the storm stays on its projected track or if it comes a little bit to the west.
The ground is already saturated, so mother nature is not going to be able to absorb that extra rain.
It was hard for hard for me to go to sleep last night, because we are only about 112 miles from Freeport [Grand Bahamas] where I stand. And if Dorian continued at 5mph it would have gotten here too quick for our comfort.”
NHC: Dorian ‘wobbling’ over north Bahamas
The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the eye of Hurricane Dorian is “wobbling” over the Bahamas’ northernmost island.
The centre of the storm was around 35 miles (56 kilometers) east-northeast of Freeport on Grand Bahama and 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Top sustained winds remain at 165 mph (265 kph) and the Category 5 storm continues to edge west at just 1 mph (1.6 kph).
Dorian is expected to continue lashing the Bahamas on Monday, before moving closer to the southeastern US coast Monday night through Wednesday evening.
‘You cannot tell the difference between the street and the ocean’, says Bahamas PM
The prime minister of the Bahamas has spoken about the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian today. These comments were made on Sunday evening, but communications have been very difficult out of the Bahamas.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said that in some parts of Abaco, “you cannot tell the difference as to the beginning of the street versus where the ocean begins”.
“It’s devastating,” Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, said on Sunday afternoon.
“There has been huge damage to property and infrastructure.”
Video that Jibrilu and government spokesman Kevin Harris said was sent by Abaco residents showed homes missing parts of roofs, electric lines on the ground and smashed and overturned cars. One showed floodwaters rushing through the streets of an unidentified town at nearly the height of a car roof.
Eight-year-old boy dead as a result of Hurricane Dorian – report
Eyewitness News in the Bahamas is reporting the first death as a result of the hurricane.
Ingird McIntosh told Eyewitness News that her grandson, aged eight, had been killed in the Abaco Islands.
She told the news station that she had received a text message from her daughter saying that her daughter and son were both missing. McIntosh’s daughter later said that she had found the body of the son, who had likely drowned. The woman’s daughter, McIntosh’s granddaughter, is still missing.
There is very little information coming out of the Abaco Islands, which have been hit by Hurricane Dorian over the course of Sunday, as the hurricane caused island-wide power outages, causing communication lines to cut in and out.
The Guardian has not been able to confirm the death and there has been no official confirmation from police or authorities.