Satellite photo shows Bahamas half underwater after Hurricane Dorian flooding

Satellite photo shows Bahamas half underwater after Hurricane Dorian flooding

While its winds had diminished to a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, Dorian expanded in size and picked up speed on Tuesday.

Grand Bahama Island was under the eyewall of Dorian, the most severe part of the hurricane, for 40 straight hours as the storm crawled at a record-slow pace for a tempest so strong.

"What we are hearing lends credence to the fact that this has been a catastrophic storm and a catastrophic impact", Cochrane said.

With telephones - including emergency lines - down on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, residents posted lists of missing loved ones across social media platforms.

Minnis said many homes and buildings were severely damaged or destroyed, but it was too early to say how much the rebuilding effort would cost.

Practically parking itself over the Bahamas for 11/2 days, Hurricane Dorian pounded away at the islands yesterday in a catastrophic onslaught that sent flood waters up to the second floors of buildings, trapped people in attics and chased others from one shelter to another.

"There are many hard days, weeks and months ahead of us as a people and as a country", Minnis tweeted. It was expected to hit Florida with hurricane conditions overnight, before bringing its powerful winds and risky surf along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina by late Thursday.

Dorian was expected to hit Florida with hurricane conditions overnight, before bringing its powerful winds and unsafe surf along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina by late Thursday.

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Lawson Bates, a staffer for Arkansas-based MedicCorps, flew over Abaco and said: "It looks completely flattened".

The Red Cross authorized $500,000 for the first wave of disaster relief, Cochrane said.

The storm's relentless winds and rain battered homes and businesses on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, which have a combined population of about 70,000 and are no more than 12m above sea level at their highest points. To the south, the Bahamas' most populous island, New Providence, which includes the capital city of Nassau and has over a quarter-million people, had little damage. "We are hoping and praying that the loss of life is limited".

An aerial view of flooding in the Bahamas on Monday.

He said crews were trying to airlift five to seven kidney failure patients from Abaco who had not received dialysis since Friday.

"It is scary", he said, adding that Grand Bahama's airport was 6 feet (almost 2 meters) underwater and that people were moving shelters as floodwaters kept surging.

"We express our solidarity with the Government of Bahamas and its people during this hard time, and we convey our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the hurricane and wished speedy recovery to the wounded", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Scientists say climate change generally has been fueling more powerful and wetter storms and the only recorded storm more powerful than Dorian was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 miles per hour (305 kph) winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

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