The hurricane centre said wind gusts exceeded 220 mph when the storm made landfall in the Bahamas on Sunday afternoon. The winds matched the records set by the Labour Day hurricane of 1935, which ripped through the Florida Keys, killing more than 400 people in a time before hurricanes were given names.
Hurricane Dorian hovered over the north-western Bahamas Monday, killing at least five people, wiping out thousands of homes, forcing many into a makeshift shelter and leaving an entire island without power. The powerful storm was expected to near Florida late Tuesday.
Emergency responders were already overwhelmed. An estimated 13,000 homes have been destroyed, according to the Salvation Army, which has volunteers stationed in the group of islands.
“This is probably the saddest and worst day for me to address the Bahamian people,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis stated. “We are facing a hurricane that we have never seen in the Bahamas. Please pray for us.”
Florida and the U.S. East Coast remain a target. It’s predicted that the storm will move “dangerously close” to the Florida east coast late Monday through Wednesday night. Dorian is forecast to turn toward the north-west, thundering parallel to Florida about 30 to 40 miles offshore, before continuing north along the East Coast right into the week.