Hurricane Dorian Lashes Bahamas, Menaces East U.S. Coast

TITUSVILLE, Fla. (Reuters/AP) -
Strong winds batter Oceanhill Boulevard in Freeport, as Hurricane Dorian passes over Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, Monday. (Lou Carroll via Reuters)

Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas early on Monday, peeling off roofs, toppling cars and snapping power lines as rising floodwater threatened to engulf houses.

The view from a U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunter plane as it flies through Hurricane Dorian, Sunday. (Garrett Black)

The second-strongest Atlantic storm on record was forecast to pound the archipelago through the day, then move slowly towards the east U.S. coast, where authorities ordered more than a million people evacuated in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

There were no immediate estimates of casualties as the Category-five storm covered the northwestern islands of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama with twisted metal and splintered wood.

Winds gusting up to 200 mph (320 kph) destroyed or damaged more than 13,000 homes, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

Residents posted images online of water rising up the side of their houses. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami warned of a possible storm surge that could push destructive waves higher than many roofs on the islands.

Shortly after 8 a.m., a spokesman for Bahamas Power and Light said that there was been a total blackout in New Providence, the archipelago’s most populous island.

Quincy Parker told ZNS Bahamas radio station 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.

At 8 a.m., the storm was located about 35 miles (50 kilometers) east-northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, and about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 flights have been canceled in Florida on Labor Day as Hurricane Dorian barrels toward the U.S. East Coast.

The flight tracking site FlightAware on Monday listed 990 cancellations into or out of airports in Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says that although the official forecast does not show Dorian making landfall in Florida, the hurricane could deviate from that prediction and move very near or over the coast.

The center also said the likelihood was increasing of strong winds and dangerous storm surge along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina later this week.

Updated Monday, September 2, 2019 at 8:41 am .