Hurricane Dorian Hits Bahamas, Causing "Catastrophic" Damage

Video still via social media

By The Maritime Executive 09-02-2019 07:23:49

Hurricane Dorian is effectively stalled just off the coast of Grand Bahama Island, and it is not expected to begin moving again until Monday night. Since coming ashore as a Category 5 storm in the Abaco Islands on Sunday, it has brought devastation to parts of the Bahamas, and at least five deaths have been reported.

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center suggests that Dorian will move about 80 nm to the northwest over the next 24 hours. If accurate, the forecast track would place the center of the storm at a position about 25 nm off the coast of St. Lucie County, Florida. The county has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the barrier islands off Fort Pierce and Vero Beach. The storm is expected to continue to the northeast, paralleling the Eastern seaboard without making landfall. 

Dangerous conditions may still affect the Florida coastline, including possible storm surge flooding. A hurricane warning is in effect between Jupiter, Florida and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, a coastal community near Jacksonville. 

Royal Navy brings relief to the Bahamas

Some of the first relief to arrive in the Bahamas after the passage of Hurricane Dorian may well be delivered by a Royal Navy fleet auxiliary. 

The UK regularly pre-positions a Royal Fleet Auxiliary amphibious assault vessel (classified as a landing dock) in the Caribbean during hurricane season to assist with storm response. After Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in 2017, the RFA Mounts Bay helped the disaster relief effort in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

This year, RFA Mounts Bay is back, and she has deployed to provide assistance in the Bahamas. As of Monday evening she was holding station off the northeast coast of Harbour Island, carrying specially-trained personnel, relief supplies, military vehicles and a Wildcat helicopter "Final checks on board complete. All personnel ready to assist," her command said in a Twitter post. 

The Abaco Islands, just a few miles to the northwest, were among the areas hit hardest by the storm's passage. The Red Cross estimates that as many as 13,000 homes in the Abaco Islands were destroyed by flooding and high winds, and Bahamas foreign minister Darren Henfield told media that the damage in the area was "catastrophic."  

The U.S. Coast Guard is also participating in the response, and it has already deployed servicemembers and assets from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and crews along with health service technicians have pre-staged on Andros Island in order to facilitate a rapid post-storm response.