(Revised on October 10th, 2019)
Many thanks to all the photographers whose photos are posted here. The webmaster apologizes for not giving credits.
At the bottom of this page are multiple links to more photos and videos.
On September 1st, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Abacos with 185 mph winds, gusting to over 200 mph. The eyewall made a direct hit on Elbow Cay and surrounding islands before heading to Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay on its northwestern course.
The Abacos were as prepared as they could be with boats hauled out, houses and businesses boarded up, and quite a few people evacuating. However, the islands were no match for Dorian’s wrath as the strongest storm to ever hit the Bahamas. The Weather Channel indicated that when the eye of Dorian came ashore, it was like a 20 mile wide tornado.
Before and after photos by Robbie Bethel:
Despite those leaving the islands, there were still many people left to try and survive the storm and the destruction it was causing. There are many scary stories of roofs blowing off and walls caving in, plus horrific flooding. In Hope Town, the St. James Community Center was the hurricane shelter, and when the roof was compromised, the residents had to run to the Mission House next door. This happened to many others who had to find shelter elsewhere during the eye when their homes gave way.
Even after the storm moved on, the winds in Abaco were tropical storm to hurricane force as Category 5 Dorian stalled over Grand Bahama for 2 days. When the residents emerged, the devastation was catastrophic. They were so glad to have escaped with their lives. Many residents have lost everything...their homes, their boats, their businesses, their possessions. As reports started coming in, the description everywhere was apocalyptic damage, but it was amazing to hear that none of the out islands were reporting any fatalities.
Sadly, Marsh Harbour could not report the same as there have been many reports of deaths. The official total as of Sept. 12th was 50 (including Grand Bahama), but the number will probably rise with a reported 1300 persons still being missing. Most of MH was demolished and the surge was like a raging river through the streets.
Communications were difficult following the hurricane, as the few people in Abaco that had satellite phones could not always use them due to the weather conditions. Luckily ALIV mobile phone service came back quickly and reports and photos started being sent once batteries were charged as generators were used. The media also flew in to do reports on the devastation and several private planes flew overhead to take photos and video.
The outpouring of people wanting to help following the storm has been enormous. Relief and medical supplies (& personnel) in the U.S., Canada, other Bahamian Islands, and other countries have been collected and shipped or flown over. This caused concern for aviation safety, as there have been so many planes in the vicinity. At first Marsh Harbour Airport was underwater and Treasure Cay had debris, but Sandy Point was cleared quickly for aircraft to come in. A few days later the other 2 airports opened for evacuation efforts also. Offers are coming in from other Bahamian islands and people in the US to house the evacuees, many of which have children that will need to go to school. Some are even offering jobs. There were also some groups going to the Abacos to evacuate pets and potcakes.
With damage of this magnitude, the highest priority was to get all non-essential people off the islands. The Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, and Royal Bahamas Defense Force have been flying in with helicopters and planes to get residents evacuated. Bahamas Air and Delta have also been doing evacuation flights to Nassau and the Bahamas Fast Ferries have been taking people off island, and a cruise ship from Nassau to Florida. The Mud and Pigeon Peas have been leveled, some of which the survivors had taken up residence at the Government Center before being evacuated. There is a large military presence to keep evacuations running smoothly. Relief supplies continue to come in but they must have proper clearance, as do planes and boats.
In Hope Town, most of the structures on the island have sustained some kind of damage. Some places are completely gone. Boats that were in the harbor are strewn onshore. Capt’n Jack’s, The Coffee House, Abaco Inn, HT Harbour Lodge, and the Harbour’s Edge were heavily damaged. At the entrance to the harbor, with the NW and North wind, many of the houses were destroyed. The Cash house was moved off its foundation and across the road. The Doyle’s house and Lavender Cottage were nowhere to be seen. Roofs blew off and damaged other houses, and anything that those winds didn’t demolish, the south wind did after the eye went past. Several of the villas at HT Inn & Marina sustained heavy damage and there was flooding. Boats tied in the marina sustained damage, some sunk, and some broke loose. The Post Office second floor is gone and the library lost its roof exposing the inside to the elements. photo
The north and south Ends of Elbow Cay did not make out any better. Houses are damaged and destroyed, although some appear to be okay in photos, others, even those right next door, are heavily damaged or gone. The island was breached at White Sound and the ocean waves were reportedly 35ft. Sea Spray is gone...
Once the storm passed, the HT community came together as usual. It is a miracle that the Hope Town Sailing Club has minimal damage, and the clubhouse was immediately set up as one of the command centers and a soup kitchen to feed the residents. Firefly Resort has also done the same for the south end, despite having damage.
In HT, all non-essential people have been evacuated so that Hope Town Volunteer Fire & Rescue can assess the conditions on the island and assess the buildings. Lighthouse Marina and boatyard, which was heavily damaged, began pumping gas by gravity feed through a garden hose for jerry cans to run generators, within a couple of days.
In MOW, also heavily damaged and all boats sunk or grounded (including ferries), the streets were clear within a couple of days and a place cleared for helicopters to land. Spanish Wells sent a barge with relief supplies and manpower to help clear the harbor entrances of boats. Another barge from the States arrived with supplies and a crane.
Facebook link to Man-O-War Video:
Troy from Dive Guana reported that the damage on the island has already been catalogued, they are notifying home owners, and they organized evacuations and clean up. Nippers and Grabbers have major damage.
There has been limited information from Green Turtle Cay, but they have lists in hand of materials and supplies that they need. Besides the wind damage, they too had major flooding. Most boats at Abaco Yacht Service fell off their stands.
Treasure Cay also had catastrophic damage, and people have been evacuated.
Rebuilding will take a long time, especially with not only the amount of damaged structures that will need to be demolished, debris to clear, boats & vehicles to remove, but also to rebuild the power infrastructure. The generating plant in MH has been damaged and most likely all power poles and lines will need replacing on every island. BPL has started replacing those poles on the south end of Great Abaco. The Abaconians are resilient and so much help and relief supplies have been offered from multiple sources. Thank you all...let the recovery and rebuilding begin!
Links to Photos & Videos:
Facebook link to Man-O-War Video:
Link to photos and video of Jim Moudy’s walk through Lighthouse Marina’s Boatyard:
Link to Little House by the Ferry’s Photos of damage in Hope Town:
Link to Tara Claridge's video of the aftermath in Marsh Harbour posted on Facebook:
Below is a link for hundreds of high resolution photos of Abaco. These make it easy to zoom in. Thank you to the pilot and photographer!
Link to Facebook Video of WXChasing drone footage of Marsh Harbour:
Hope Town Settlement Photos, after the storm: