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World

Slow Moving Hurricane Dorian Batters The Bahamas

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The storm is just stuck. Hurricane Dorian is essentially parked over the Bahamas, pummeling the islands with rain and winds, especially Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands. The Bahamas foreign minister, Darren Henfield, talked with reporters yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DARREN HENFIELD: From all accounts, we have received catastrophic damage. It is not safe to go outdoors. Power lines are down. Lamp poles are down. Trees are across the street.

MARTIN: Meanwhile, much of the eastern United States is watching to see where Hurricane Dorian finally moves next. NPR's Greg Allen is in West Palm Beach, Fla., tracking the storm from that vantage point. Hi, Greg.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: What are you learning there about what hurricane Dorian has left in its path in the Bahamas?

ALLEN: Well, you know, the impact is still happening as we speak on Grand Bahama Island. As you say, you know, the storm has been over the island for more than a day now. The good news is that - we hear from the National Hurricane Center, is that after being stationary, it's actually started to move now, move very slowly away - but very slowly at this point, so you still have high winds and floodwaters just besieging Grand Bahama Island.

We understand there's been thousands of homes destroyed. With some - we're seeing pictures and video coming out of Abaco, which got the hit first, and then Grand Bahama, which is still getting it. We see cars overturned, roofs missing. We hear from the International Red Cross that some 13,000 homes may be destroyed on the storm surge, which has really been a problem there. And you've seen some video of people forming human chains and getting into their attics to escape the rising floodwaters. And the airport in Grand Bahama has - there's 6 feet of water. You've seen video of that.

MARTIN: Wow.

ALLEN: Just amazing, the amount of water that's just been pouring over that island. We've heard about five people dead. That's a number that's unfortunately likely to rise. We'll hear more from the government probably later today.

MARTIN: Yeah.

ALLEN: But it's a dire situation.

MARTIN: So, I mean, how do they even begin to conduct rescue and recovery? They can't yet, right?

ALLEN: Well, yes, that's a real problem right now. With these high winds, it's really not possible on Grand Bahama while Dorian sits on the island. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force has been out, though, since yesterday conducting some rescues. We don't have many details on that.

On Abaco, the U.S. Coast Guard arrived yesterday and has been using helicopters to airlift injured people to safety. But the Bahamian officials haven't really been able to get out much in Abaco yet, even though the storm's somewhat moved on. They're still feeling the effects, but they hope to do a flyover, and we'll get more information on that later today. But they say that no aid - real aid can get out there to people who need help or survey the damage is going to be possible untill conditions improve, and that might not be till tomorrow.

MARTIN: Right.

ALLEN: You're talking about, you know, 70,000 people being affected by all this.

MARTIN: So ever so slowly this storm is finally starting to budge. Do we have any idea what the path is? I mean, so many different states along the Eastern Seaboard are prepping, right?

ALLEN: Well, exactly, and I think rightfully so because it's still a major hurricane, and it's going to be - remain a hurricane as it moves up the East Coast. Right now it's just a little bit more than 100 miles west of where I am in West Palm Beach. And it's going to remain dangerously close to the Florida coast as it starts to move. And it should be moving north at least until Thursday or Friday. And it's going to be at full hurricane strength the whole time. Hopefully, it's going to stay offshore, but the National Hurricane Center warns us to be prepared for a possible jog to the west, which could bring it - make landfall somewhere on the southeastern coast.

MARTIN: Have you seen signs of the preparations yet, just where you are?

ALLEN: Oh, yes. People are taking this very seriously, from Palm Beach County north, all the way up to Virginia, which has declared a state of emergency. Because even if it stays - Dorian stays offshore, we're going to see strong winds, high winds and potentially flooding from rain and storm surge. And so that's the problem here, that people have to be prepared for that flooding.

MARTIN: Right. Even if it doesn't hit, there's going to be damage. NPR's Greg Allen. Thank you so much.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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