MIAMI -- Hurricane Dorian pulverized houses in the Bahamas overnight, leaving countless residents homeless as the monster storm slowly creeps toward the US.
“Tragic flooding, we are stranded!” John Forbes tweeted from Grand Bahama early Monday morning.
In Marsh Habour, residents endured the strongest storm on the planet this year in the dark.
“There’s damages everywhere around my area,” Vernal Cooper told Diversity News. “Cars and houses destroyed. This is what’s left of Marsh Harbour.”
The Category 5 storm made landfall Sunday night on Grand Bahama Island, whipping winds of 180 mph.
Even worse: Dorian is moving west at only 1 mph Monday morning, meaning it will keep thrashing the Bahamas as it crawls toward the southeastern US.
While millions of Americans are under mandatory evacuation orders in three states, officials worry the deadly hurricane will be even more catastrophic.
“It’s just an absolutely devastating, life-threatening situation,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Where Dorian is going
The Bahamas will keep getting battered most of Monday, since Dorian is moving west at the pace of a slow walk.
As of Monday morning, Dorian was whipping 165-mph winds about 35 miles east-northeast of Freeport, on Grand Bahama Island.
It’s expected to start trudging toward the mainland US later in the day, the National Hurricane Center said.
The massive storm will get “dangerously close” to Florida’s east coast Monday night through Wednesday evening, the hurricane center said.
“The very dangerous core of Dorian is expected to stay roughly 50 miles off the Florida coast, which will bring hurricane force winds, surge and heavy rain,” DNN meteorologist Chuck Larry said.
The first victim was an 8-year-old boy
On the Abaco Islands, an 8-year-old boy apparently drowned in rising waters, his grandmother told Eyewitness News in the Bahamas.
The grandmother, Ingrid McIntosh, said her 31-year-old daughter found the body of the boy. McIntosh said her granddaughter is also missing.
“I just saw my grandson about two days ago,” McIntosh said. “He told me he loved me. He was going back to Abaco, he turned around and said, ‘Grandma, I love you.'”
Diversity News has contacted Bahamian authorities, who have not yet confirmed the local reports.
Since Dorian is barely moving over the Bahamas, the storm could dump as much as 24 to 30 inches of rain on northwestern parts of the islands, the hurricane center said.
On top of flooding from rain, “catastrophic storm surge flooding” was likely, forecasters said.
“This is a life-threatening situation,” the hurricane center said.
“Residents on Grand Bahama Island should not leave their shelter when the eye passes over, as winds will rapidly increase on the other side of the eye. Residents in the Abacos should continue to stay in their shelter until conditions subside later today.”
How Dorian could pummel the US
The strongest storm anywhere on the planet this year is on track to threaten the US Southeast, but it’s still unclear if or where Dorian will make landfall.
Landfall happens when the center of the hurricane reaches land.
Models now show the storm skirting along Florida’s coast Tuesday and then next to Georgia late Tuesday and into Wednesday.
But just because the center of the storm may not hit land doesn’t mean there won’t be damage. Early Monday, hurricane-force winds from the storm extended outward up to 45 miles, and Dorian was already lashing Florida with fierce winds.
The hurricane center said “life-threatening storm surges and dangerous hurricane-force winds are expected along portions of the Florida east coast through mid-week.”
The governors of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina ordered mandatory evacuations for some coastal residents.
At least 13 Florida counties were under evacuation orders Monday morning, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
For those not under mandatory evacuations, the agency urged residents to “plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power & water for several days.”
More than 900 flights have been canceled going in and out of Florida airports, according to data from Flightaware.com
The Orlando Melbourne International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will suspend commercial flights and close terminals at noon Monday.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp ordered mandatory evacuations in six coastal counties east of Interstate 95.
Possible downed trees, power lines, debris and flooding as well as roads and bridges possibly becoming impassable were reasons behind the evacuations, the order said.
The order will be in place through Monday night, the governor said.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also ordered the evacuation of coastal South Carolina residents starting at noon on Monday.
The storm could also impact coastal parts of North Carolina later this week.
In Wilmington, North Carolina, Christina Dowe said she bought a new home in November after her home was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Florence.
“We’ve just been trying to get perishables, getting water, getting flashlights. Just trying to get the necessities, things that we need, so we can be better prepared than we were last year,” she said
Dowe said she’s just hoping “everything works out better than it did last year.”
‘My house sounds like the ocean’
Before anyone knows what damage Dorian will inflict on the US, it’ll keep hammering already battered parts of the Bahamas.
Vickareio Adderely’s home in Marsh Harbour is filled with water. One of the rooms is now “gone,” and a hole in the roof keeps getting bigger.
“My house sounds like the ocean,” Adderely said. “There are three houses adjacent to mine that also lost their roof.”
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, said the islands were “facing a hurricane that we have never seen before.”
He tweeted a message to the public: “Please pray for us.”