Slow-moving storm Hurricane Dorian devastates multiple Caribbean territories

By Olivia Capasso || Contributing Writer


Photo courtesy of BBC/Getty Images.

Hurricane Dorian has been labeled the first major tropical storm in the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.  Dorian was identified as a tropical wave off the coast of western Africa on August 24, developing into a hurricane four days later. The National Hurricane Center has been tracking its progress ever since. On August 31, Dorian reached the criteria of a Category 4 hurricane, sustaining winds above 131 mph.  One day later, the hurricane was classified as a Category 5 event, with high winds of 185 mph. Dorian then made landfall in Elbow Cay, Bahamas, and reached Grand Bahama within a few hours, affecting numerous Caribbean territories with its intensity. Wind gusts reached 111 mph over the Virgin Islands, which, combined with storm surge, proved to be especially damaging for coastal communities.  Dorian became relatively stationary after passing over the Bahamas and into the Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands, where it remained from September 1 to September 3 as a Category 5 storm. Destruction in the Bahamas was considerable; the high winds, storm surge, and rate of rainfall proved to be highly damaging for the islands. According to the National Hurricane Center, the slow-moving nature of Dorian has made the hurricane especially life-threatening, flooding homes and entire villages, rendering them inhabitable.  

The level of destruction within the Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands requires a major coordinated effort on the part of hurricane aids in reaching the victims of this national emergency.  Currently, the main concern of emergency workers in the Bahamas is feeding and ensuring the health and wellbeing of those affected by the gravity of the hurricane. According to NPR, twenty-three deaths have been recorded and thousands of homes severely affected by the intense conditions of Dorian thus far.  Officials are predicting that it could potentially cost billions of dollars to repair the damage, not to mention the extensive support and rescue groups required to be disposable for survivors.  

Many in the Bahamas are missing in the midst of the disaster, and relatives and friends have resorted to social media in attempts to locate their loved ones.  Search and rescue efforts are ongoing, and clear locations have been established to distribute food and water to hurricane victims. As of Thursday morning, upwards of 135 individuals have been located and rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, conducting the search using helicopters for an aerial view of the landscape.  A British Royal Navy ship has docked on the Abaco Islands to provide additional supplies, equipment, and generators for those in need. According to The Weather Channel, Lia Head-Rigby, the head of a hurricane relief program, recounted the scene above the Abaco Islands as “total devastation,” predicting “tremendous social and economic dislocation and disruption.” 

By the end of September 3, the hurricane diminished to a Category 2 event with winds no greater than 110 mph.  The United States and primarily coastal areas between Florida and North Carolina have determined substantial threat to their communities and put mandatory evacuation orders into effect for those living within plausible reach of the storm. Hurricane Dorain made landfall over Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on September 6. The extent of its damage in the United States is yet to be fully assessed. 

First-year Olivia Capasso is a contributing writer. Her email is ocapasso@fandm.edu.

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