September 05, 2019
On the Abacos Islands of the Bahamas, Alicia Cook held her daughters, Lacy, 8, and Lyric, 4, close -- and then, surrounded by devastation as far as the eye could see, said a heart-wrenching goodbye to her girls.The sisters soon boarded a helicopter with their aunt to be evacuated to Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas. Their parents would be staying behind, as there was no room for them on the helicopter."Bye, Mom. I love you!" one of the girls called from the helicopter."I had to send them with my sister. I couldn't fit. My babies, I had to send them. This is just a disaster. Everything's gone. There's just so much heartache and death everywhere. I just don't know what we're going to do," Cook told AccuWeather correspondent Brandon Clement through tears. "[I'm] leaving my hearts. Don't know when I'll see them again." Alicia Cook hugs her daughter Lyric as they say goodbye. Cook and her husband are having their two daughters evacuated from the Abacos Islands after Hurricane Dorian. (Brandon Clement) The family of four survived Hurricane Dorian, which dealt a historic blow to the Bahamas on Sunday, Sept. 1, when it made landfall as Category 5 hurricane. With sustained winds of 185 mph at the time of landfall, Hurricane Dorian was tied for the second most powerful hurricane by wind speed in the Atlantic basin since 1851 behind Hurricane Allen in 1980 with 190 mph winds.The death toll in the Bahamas has risen to around 30 and is expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue.Cook told Clement that she had to get her children off of the island, which was in a state of "total devastation." The flight was paid for by the Discovery Land Company, a real estate developer that is currently sharing resources like private helicopters.The powerful winds of Hurricane Dorian had stripped even concrete buildings of their integrity. Supposedly sturdy buildings were broken like pottery pieces, the long bent fingers of rebar stripped of the concrete and exposed."This isn't cheap construction. This is one-inch rebar [reinforcement bar], eight-inch-thick concrete, just pulverized," Clement said while filming.That's just what the buildings in the Abaco Islands are after Dorian: pulverized.A woman stood crying on the second story of a building: the walls and roof having been torn away during the Category 5 storm. Around the skeleton of the house lay the carnage of debris, trees stripped of all leaves and an overturned boat.
Bye, Mom. I love you! Family torn apart in aftermath of Hurricane Dorian
The beach is nowhere in sight.
A pickup truck and an SUV were strapped to a barge to keep them tied down. Though battered, they remain remain in place. The same could not be said of the beached boat. A handful of small boats were deposited on the shore, a few landing at the doorsteps of houses.
A pickup truck and an SUV were strapped to a barge to keep them tied down. The vehicles were damaged during the storm, and the boat they were aboard beached. (Brandon Clement) Some of the cars on the island made it out of the storm with just some shattered glass, while others sit partially submerged in ponds of water that have yet to recede. Footage shows residents of the Bahamas walking down a street, their belongings in plastic bags. The still partially flooded road is littered with tree debris and downed power poles."I've been through many, many hurricanes and seen devastation, but nothing ever, ever compared to this," Cook said. "I've never even experienced anything -- I watched movies and I see this on the news, but you don't know it until you go through it. You lose everything in an instant. Just everything you've ever worked for, your whole life's gone," Cook said. "Just what do you do? And nobody should have to go through this. It's like a bad dream. You just can't wake up."The people of the Bahamas pick through what has become marshes of debris, trying to find any of their belongings that they could salvage.Clement stopped to speak with a woman who had been looking around the remains of her home, trying to find a scrap of the life that had been torn from her by Dorian: a backpack with her passport.
People in the Bahamas scour through the wreckage that Hurricane Dorian left behind in its wake, trying to find any of their belongings they can savage. This woman was looking for a backpack with her passport in it, which she had lost in the chaos of the storm. (Brandon Clement) "Harbour View Marina collapsed, and the water came to my roof," a woman told Clement, standing in front of the demolished walls of her baby blue house. She, her son, her best friend and two others staying with her escaped out the back window and clung to a Suzuki until the eye passed two hours later."It was awful," the woman said after Clement asked what it had been like. While hanging on for their lives, a young boy with them suffered a five-inch gash in the back of his head and fell unconscious. She said debris beat up against them all, bruising them.When the water subsided and the worst of the wind calmed, Dorian had left behind a skeleton of what she once had."I have nothing. Everything is gone. It's either there," the woman said, gesturing off at the debris to one side of her, "there ..." she gestured to more debris behind her. "And I don't know, it's just awful," she said, beginning to cry.
Homes flattened by Hurricane Dorian are seen in Abaco, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The storm's devastation has come into sharper focus as the death toll climbed to 20 and many people emerged from shelters to check on their homes. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi) "I've been through many of a hurricane, this was, I don't know. A tidal wave, a tornado, a hurricane, everything in one," she said. "I've never seen anything like this in my life. It's just devastating. I don't know if we'll ever come back from it. I don't know if I want to leave, if I want to stay. I don't know."For the Cook family, the aftermath of Dorian brought the most heartache as they said their goodbyes. After the helicopter doors slammed shut, Cook and her husband watched as the craft lifted off, taking their children away from the carnage left behind by Dorian.Reporting by Brandon Clement and Jonathan Petramala in the Bahamas.
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