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Aliana Alexis of Haiti stands on the concrete slab of what is left of her home after destruction from Hurricane Dorian in an area called “The Mud” at Marsh Harbour in Great Abaco Island, Bahamas on September 5, 2019.
Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

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“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy”: Hurricane Dorian in photos

Photojournalists reveal horrifying destruction in the Bahamas.

Brian Resnick is Vox’s science and health editor, and is the co-creator of Unexplainable, Vox's podcast about unanswered questions in science. Previously, Brian was a reporter at Vox and at National Journal.

Hurricane Dorian hit Grand Bahama Island as an incredibly powerful Category 5 hurricane on Sunday night with howling 185 mile-per-hour winds. Then it basically camped over the island. For nearly two days, Dorian moved at just 1 mile per hour, subjecting Grand Bahama to intense hurricane conditions. Wind gusts blew in excess of 200 mph — strong enough to blow a roof off a house. The storm generated 18 to 23 feet of coastal flooding from storm surge. More than 3 feet of rain fell.

A satellite image from Iceye, a commercial satellite operator, shows the massive flooding on the island. Only one sliver of land was not flooded.

We still don’t know the complete scope of the impact on Grand Bahama or on the Abaco Islands, another part of the Bahamas pummeled by the enormous storm. But things are looking bad. At least 30 people have been reported dead across both sets of islands; that figure is likely to rise. The storm only cleared out of the Bahamas Wednesday. Search and rescue is still underway.

“The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,” Duane Sands, health minister of the Bahamas, told a radio station in the Bahamas. Many, many people are still missing, according to reports.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimates 13,000 homes may have been severely damaged or destroyed across the Bahamas (about half of all homes). The US Coast Guard is responding and the British Royal Navy are responding to the disaster, and relief agencies like the Red Cross are jumping in to help. CNN reports that the main airport in Freeport, has been all but destroyed, which may make bringing aid to island difficult in the coming days.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports “flooding in Abaco is believed to have contaminated wells with saltwater.” Both Grand Bahama and the Abacos may need around 60,000 gallons of water delivered each day. In all, more than 60,000 people may need food and water assistance.

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Hubert Minnis, the prime minister of the Bahamas, said earlier this week. “Our focus is search, rescue, and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders.”

On top of the human tragedy, an environmental disaster might be left in the storm’s wake. Norwegian energy company Equinor reports oil has spilled out of one its storage facilities on Grand Bahama. It’s unclear if any of that oil has spilled into the sea, or is just confined to the land. One consequence of an oil spill, Earther reports, is that is can contaminate drinking water and make it toxic. If it gets into the ocean, it can harm coral and other wildlife as well.

Videos and images have started to trickle out of the storm-battered Bahamas from photojournalists and locals on social media. They reveal islands torn to shreds, whole homes washed out to sea. (At the bottom of this story, find links about how you can help the Bahamas.) Here’s what they’re seeing so far:

A family lies on cots in a disaster shelter.
Anastacia Makey, 43, far right, looks at her phone as she and her family sits on cots with other residents inside a church that was opened up as a shelter as they wait out Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, September 1, 2019.
Ramon Espinosa/AP
A mass of wrecked homes float in a marsh off of Great Abaco Island on September 4, 2019.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Damage and debris seen in the city of Freeport, Grand Bahama on September 5, 2019.
Adam DelGiudice/AFP/Getty Images
Buildings in in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island were washed away, September 4, 2019.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Catherine Russel, right, is greeted by a loved one after arriving with other survivors of Hurricane Dorian from Abaco island, September 4, 2019.
Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Residents pass damage in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.
Brendan SmialowskiAFP/Getty Images
BAHAMAS-WEATHER-HURRICANE
A man walks past destruction in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Islands.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Damaged cars and fallen trees are seen in Great Abaco Island, Bahamas on September 5, 2019.
Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

People try to salvage construction material in houses damaged by Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, September 5, 2019.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
An aerial view of damage caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen on Great Abaco Island on September 4, 2019.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
The remains of a house on Great Abaco Island, September 4, 2019.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Nearly demolished homes on Great Abaco Island, September 4, 2019.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
A home with its roof blown off in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, September 4, 2019.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
A crying woman hugging two other women
Roshane Eyma cries as she is greeted by members of her church after being rescued and flown to Nassau from devastated Abaco Island on September 4, 2019.
Jose Jimenez/Getty Images
People shelter inside a church after surviving Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
People shelter inside a church after surviving Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, September 5, 2019.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Sax player Rashad Reckley plays outside the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport on September 5, 2019 in Nassau, Bahamas.
Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

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