HURRICANE Dorian’s final death toll will be “staggering” officials in the Bahamas fear with thousands still listed as missing.
The 225mph monster storm effectively parked itself the archipelago’s Abaco Islands earlier this week bringing near-total devastation.
Homes left flattened by 225mph Hurricane Dorian are seen on Abaco, Bahamas[/caption]
At least 30 people are reported to have died in the shocking mega-storm[/caption]
The death toll officially sits at 30 but officials expected that to rise dramatically over the coming days.
Last night Health Minister Duane Sands warned of a “staggering” final number.
“The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,” he told local radio.
On social media thousands are still listed as missing as British and American rescue teams hunt through the rubble for survivors.
People are also using websites such as DorianPeopleSearch.com, which currently lists the names of more than 5,500 missing people.
Speaking to the Daily Beast, the site’s founder Vanessa Pritchard-Ansell said: “When you see that somebody has been found and their family knows where they are, you feel a moment of elation.”
“But you also know that there are so many thousands of others who have not been accounted for.”
In grim development officials in the Bahamas have deployed a team of morticians loaded with body bags to the Abaco Islands, the BBC reports.
Chilling pictures taken there over the past 36 hours show the catastrophic damage caused to thousands of homes.
The wooden-built properties were completely shredded as the mega-storm bulldozed towns and villages, ripping up trees and felling power lines.
The storm’s punishing winds and shocking floodwaters destroyed or severely damaged homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics.
Terrifying time-lapse footage has now emerged which shows the killer storm barrelling across the Atlantic and over the Bahamas before heading towards the US coast.
Mark Lowcock, the United Nations’ under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, estimates about 70,000 people in the northern Bahamas now need vital help.
However, with no functioning water systems in accessible areas, workers had not been able to establish a permanent rescue site on the Abacos.
Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief group and flew over the Bahamas’ hard-hit Abaco Islands, said: “It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic.
“It’s not rebuilding something that was there – we have to start again.”
She said her representative on Abaco told her there were “a lot more dead,” though she had no numbers as bodies are being gathered.
The Bahamas’ prime minister also expected more deaths and predicted that rebuilding would require “a massive, coordinated effort”.
Hubert Minnis said: “We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history. No effort or resources will be held back.”
Tens of thousands now need vital help in the north of the Bahamas[/caption]
Aerial photos show the debris and destruction left in the wake of the hurricane[/caption]
Matthew Aylen is rescued from a flooded home in Freeport, Bahamas[/caption]
Mobile homes are upended and debris is strewn about at the Holiday Trav-l Park in North Carolina[/caption]
Volunteers from British disaster response charity Team Rubicon UK are in the Bahamas to help some of the 76,000 people worst affected by Dorian.
They will use their specialist military backgrounds to get aid to the most cut-off communities.
Paul Taylor, Team Rubicon UK Operations Response Manager and an Afghanistan veteran, said: “Where Team Rubicon UK can help, we will – but we need support from the public to do so, so we’d appreciate if people could spare a few pounds.”
Earlier five Coast Guard helicopters ran near-hourly flights to the stricken Abaco, flying more than 20 injured people to the capital’s main hospital.
The British Royal navy is also rushing in aid, while the UK Government sent in a team of humanitarian experts to offer their help.
A few private aid groups also tried to reach the battered islands in the northern Bahamas.
Tammy Mitchell of the Bahamas’ National Emergency Management Agency told ZNS Bahamas radio station: “We don’t want people thinking we’ve forgotten them. … We know what your conditions are.”
But with airports flooded and roads impassable, desperate rescue efforts are being severely hampered.
Locals rescued used jet skis and bulldozers as they were forced to improvise to reach those trapped.
The news is sure to send shivers down the spines of those hunkering down in the US.
Dorian sideswiped the Carolinas with shrieking winds, tornadoes and sideways rain on Thursday as it closed in for a possible direct hit on the dangerously exposed Outer Banks.
At least four deaths in the Southeast were blamed on the storm.
Twisters spun off by Dorian peeled away roofs and flipped trailers, and more than 250,000 homes and businesses were left without power as the hurricane pushed north along the coastline, its winds weakening to 105mph by evening.
Trees and power lines littered flooded streets in Charleston’s historic downtown. Gusts topped 80mph in some areas.
The damage from the same storm that mauled the Bahamas was mercifully light in many parts of South Carolina and Georgia as well, and by mid-afternoon many of the 1.5 million people who had been told to evacuate in three states were allowed to return.
How hurricanes are measured
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed.
- A Category 1 storm has sustained winds of 74-95 mph
- A Category 2 storm has sustained winds of 96-110 mph
- A Category 3 storm has sustained winds of 111-129 mph
- A Category 4 storm has sustained winds of 130-156mph
- A Category 5 storm has sustained winds of 156mph+
A woman seeks cover from sand and rain whipped up by Hurricane Dorian in Cocoa Beach, Florida[/caption]
Still, forecasters warned that Dorian could run straight over North Carolina’s Outer Banks the thin line of islands that stick out from the US coast.
To the north, Virginia was also in harm’s way, and a round of evacuations was ordered there.
“We have a long night ahead of us. Everyone needs to stay in a safe place and off the roads until the storm passes,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.
The Category 2 vortex began creeping up the shore 95 miles off Cape Canaveral on Tuesday.
In Florida, Walt Disney World closed its four theme parks by mid-afternoon on Tuesday amid fears for tourist safety.
It vowed to reopen the park today, writing on its site: “We are closely monitoring the progress of the storm and are making operational adjustments as needed, because nothing is more important than the safety of our guests and cast members.”
Universal Orlando Resort also closed its theme parks early for the day because of the threat of the vicious storm.
Its two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, shut as of 6pm local time on Tuesday.
The storm is slowly moving to the northwest at 6mph – leading to expectations it will hit neighbouring
A string of evacuations have been ordered across the US southeast coast by state leaders this week affecting around 1.5million people.
Residents were earlier pictured stocking up on emergency supplies like food, water and batteries, while others boarded up homes and businesses to protect them as best they could.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that Hurricane Dorian is still expected to bring life-threatening storm surges.
MOST READ IN WORLD NEWS
FEMA Associate Administrator Carlos Castillo said residents along the entire US East Coast should be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
He added: “Don’t tough it out, get out.”
The American Red Cross opened 170 shelters and evacuation centres and more than 13,000 people are already at those facilities.
Flooding on the runway of Marsh Harbour Airport in the Bahamas[/caption]
Strong gusts of wind and heavy rain batter a pier at Jensen Beach, Florida[/caption]
A chopper takes seven critical patients from Marsh Harbour Clinic on Abaco Islands, Bahamas[/caption]
The eye of Hurricane Dorian is shown from the International Space Station[/caption]
A car is submerged in water from Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas[/caption]
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.