Hurricane Dorian left the Bahamas after 48 hours of wrecking havoc, hope was that the hurricane would lessen in strength. Unfortunately as it made its way off the islands, it picked up intensity again rising to a Category 3. When it hit South Carolina, it hit as a Category 2 with sustained winds of 110 mph. Hundreds of thousands of Carolina residents who lived along the coast packed up their belongings and fled ahead of the storm. Others stayed, but officials say most of the coastal residences had evacuated. Nearly 250,000 businesses as well as homes were without power before the hurricane even hit. “A lot of the power outages were part of the electric companies manually taking the grids offline in an effort to protect them. Some however were the product of winds and storms that arrived ahead of hurricane Dorian,” officials say.
Governor Henry McMaster also warned people ahead of the storm’s arrival saying that, “it’s the water from the storms that kill the people. It’s the real danger and it’s pretty clear that we’re going to have quite a bit of water on our hands. I want to caution everyone to be careful. Don’t drive or wade through flooded areas. You can’t tell how deep these really are and there could be underlying currents waiting to sweep you away. If water starts to enter your home, get to the roof fast. Don’t take refuge in your attic without punching a hole to escape through. You don’t realize how fast the water levels can rise until they do.”
Officials warned that as the storm continues to strike the Carolina coast, hurricane conditions are possible to last in particular areas even as Hurricane Dorian itself begins to dissipate. The center of the storm is expected to move closer to South Carolina throughout Thursday, and then make its way to North Carolina’s coast during the night and Friday. “Even as the storm dissolves, we want people to know that the dangers aren’t over. Just because it’s no longer a hurricane doesn’t mean that it’s not capable of massive destruction,” officials warn.
Charleston, South Carolina gets Hit the Hardest by Hurricane Dorian
The state suffered a lot of damage under the massive storm, but Charleston, particularly historic Market Street, were hit the hardest. “Market Street is completely gone. Parts were under more than a foot of solid water. The gusting winds blew both rain and seawater sideways, further flooding the area. We don’t know how much damage has been done yet, but we suspect that it’s a lot. We can already tell that some buildings are completely damaged,” say residents.
According to the hurricane center, Charleston Harbor had sustained wind gusts of 80 mph. “Gusts that were nearly as strong as this were also recorded in other parts of the state. North Carolina also reported close to the same wind gust strength.” As hurricane force gusts can cause a lot of damage, both residents and officials feared the worst. However, Hurricane Dorian had more to give: several tornadoes also hit the area. “We’re not sure what Charleston did to Dorian, but whatever we did we pissed it off good because it’s wrecked serious havoc here,” says one resident.
Hurricane force winds were also reported to extend more than 60 miles away from the storm’s center. The tropical storm force winds stretched outwards of 195 miles, covering a large swath of land. “Everyone needs to realize that it’s not just about the center of the storm,” Ken Graham who’s a director for the hurricane center said, “you need to look at the storm as a whole. And in Dorian’s case, it’s both massive and destructive.”
Ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s arrival, Graham said that Charleston could see a storm surge of up to 4 feet. “That’s incredibly dangerous,” he further warned. As far as North Carolina was concerned, parts could see as much as 7 feet Graham continued. “Anything that goes above 3 feet is considered to be life threatening,” he said. “Residents who have stayed behind need to take this into consideration. Also as we’re also going to continue to be pounded by rain, you’re going to also get more flooding. Streets are going to go under and rivers may rise past their banks.”
Preparing for the Worst
Ahead of Dorian’s arrival both South and North Carolina began preparing for the worst that the storm had to offer. Shelters were opened across both states and rescue crews waited on standby. According to Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s governor, more than 50 shelters were opened in preparation for the storm. 20 swift water rescue teams were also employed to help with water rescues. North Carolina also has sixteen aircraft that are ready and waiting. “We want to be as prepared as possible for the storm and we want to minimize how many lives are lost and the number of injuries. Some people have said that we don’t need that many rescue teams or aircraft but I’d rather have more than we need than not enough,” Cooper said.
Unfortunately, not everyone was compliant. According to Police Chief Daniel House, several people in Wrightsville Beach were charged with class 2 misdemeanors for failing to comply with the state’s mandatory evacuation orders. “I hate writing tickets like that, especially during times like these but it’s necessary. You’re not only putting your own life at risk if you choose to stay, but you’re also putting the lives of first responders at risk. And if you’re on a barrier island, it’s even worse. There’s nothing in your home worth staying for. Nothing in there is worth your life or the life of others,” Cooper said. “And for those who haven’t evacuated now: get to the highest and safest place you can possibly get. If you think that’s your attic, make sure you have an exit area in case the water rises that high and you need to get onto your roof.”
Not Everyone is Taking Cooper’s Advice to Heart
Unfortunately, not everyone is taking Cooper’s advice of “get out” to heart. Derek Bellinger and his family are just one example of those who have decided to stay. Located on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Bellinger’s home in Kill Devil Hills was under mandatory evacuation. However, Derek says that he is staying. “Were really not that worried about Hurricane Dorian. We’ve been through plenty of storms and we’ve done our prep. We’re going to hunker down and ride it out,” he said. The family has stockpiled four cases of water, filled their freezer with food, and they’ve got 25 gallons of gas on reserve to power the generator. “We’re as ready and prepared as we can be,” Derek said.
North Carolina native Carol Ann Angelos also announced that she plans to stay. She’s the owner of The Jolly Roger, a beachside restaurant that has been in business for 35 years. “We’re going to stay open and serve customers for as long as the power stays on. We also plan on serving emergency responders. I’ll serve them whatever sandwiches I can scrape up by candlelight if I have to, but I’m not closing my doors,” Angelos said. Even though the windows have been boarded up, all of The Jolly Rogers’s signs read “open”.
“Our entire livelihood is here and I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t get; especially those that haven’t been through hurricanes or storms. Evacuation isn’t always the best response either. You can get caught in traffic, run out of gas, and get stranded. A lot of evacuees wait in traffic for 14+ hours just to make it 2 hours out of the city and then what? You’re still in harm’s way. And even if you make it to a safe area, who’s to say that there’s shelter for you? Most of the hotels have already been booked. So we do sandbags, we board our windows, tie everything down that can be tied down, and we pray that the ocean doesn’t rise up enough to flood you.”
Damage Done to the Bahamas By Hurricane Dorian
When Hurricane Dorian made its way to the Bahamas, the island braced for the worst. However, nobody was prepared for the amount of devastation and waste that the hurricane laid to their small island of 400,000 residents. Just days after Hurricane Dorian, now one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record, images from the Bahamas began surfacing on the Internet as well as death/injury counts and what all has been destroyed. According to the media, the Bahamas is now 70% underwater. “You can’t even see some of the streets anymore and some of the buildings are just completely gone. We don’t know if they’re underwater or they were taken out by the hurricane. Some neighborhoods are just completely gone. Others are submerged,” residents say.
As of the time of this article, officials estimate the storm’s death toll to be at least 23. “The real number could be much, much higher,” officials say. “23 is what we have currently confirmed. As the water levels lower and we’re able to access more areas, we expect that number to raise significantly.” As cleanup efforts have only just begun, Marvin Dames told press that “this is just the beginning.” The total number of those injured remains unclear/unreported.
Marvin Dames, who is the minister of national security, told the media during a news press conference on Wednesday night that they have also begun the process of clearing streets and making the airports available. “We’ve started with the islands of Abaco and the Grand Bahamas,” Dames said. “These two areas were hit the hardest by the hurricane and they’re in need of help. While all of the Bahamas suffered from Hurricane Dorian, clearing these two areas will help make it easier for cleanup crews, rescue teams, first responders, and supplies to make it in.”
Aerial footage also surfaced that was filmed over the Abaco Islands. In the footage, you can see roads that have been completely washed away as well as debris littering every free inch of space. Splintered wood juts out from damaged homes, roofs are missing, and some houses are nothing but a pile of debris now. It’s truly a sad sight to see.
It’s also come out that Equinor, a Norwegian energy company stationed in the Bahamas, suffered damage to its oil storage terminal… Which is now leaking. When asked how much oil had spilled, the company said “it’s too early to know.” The Times flew over the company’s terminal on Wednesday and reported back that many of the storage tanks had lost their lid. At least 5 of the tank lids were missing. Of those 5, only 3 contained large amounts of oil. The Times also reported that oil was visible on the ground around the tanks, but the seawater looked clear. “Precautionary measures were taken before Hurricane Dorian’s arrival and the terminal was constructed with hurricanes in mind,” a company spokesman for Equinor said. “The areas around the tanks are there to serve as barriers to contain oil spills.”
While it’s definitely good news that the oil hasn’t reached the ocean, it does spell out hazardous conditions and problems for cleanup crews in that immediate area.
How You Can Help
If you’re located in the path of the storm, officials say that the best way that you can help is by evacuating. “Don’t stay behind and become someone that we have to rescue; especially if you’re close to the beach where the storm surge will hit. It can cost lives trying to save one and you’re diverting first responders to you when other areas could benefit from them. Also, don’t be a hero. Don’t try to save people that are being swept away in the current. Don’t put your own life at risk; leave it to the professionals.”
For those outside of the states, there are plenty of areas and websites that will allow you to help from a distance. You can join rescue crews, send supplies, or contribute funds to help out. Check out the following website for links and ways that you can help: