The Bahamas has been smashed by the second-strongest storm in the Atlantic, which now looks to be heading for the US.
Following a hurricane warning on 30 August (local time), the Category 5 storm made landfall in the Abaco Islands yesterday, reaching a maximum windspeed of 295 kilometres per hour, and creating gusts of more than 354 kilometres per hour, according to ABC News.
The news outlet reported that hotels and restaurants boarded themselves up across the Bahamas archipelago in preparation for the hurricane, with scores of people ordered to evacuate for parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
According to Smartraveller, airport and ferry port closures were issued from 31 August (local time), with Bahamas government spokesman Kevin Harris telling the Associated Press that authorities had closed airports in the Abaco Islands, Grand Bahama and Bimini, but Lynden Pindling International Airport in the capital of Nassau would remain open.
The hurricane, which has already reportedly destroyed homes, overturned vehicles, ripped down powerlines and caused significant flooding, was expected to affect about 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes, according to Harris.
A significant amount of footage of the hurricane and the path of destruction it’s leaving behind has already been shared on social media.
— PrayersForTheBahamas (@Brendeaaa) September 1, 2019
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 31, 2019
— The Leaks Report (@leaksreport) September 2, 2019
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 2, 2019
— Sincerely Real (@SincerelyReal1) September 2, 2019
Smartraveller has provided the following advice to Australians on its website: “If you are in the Bahamas, particularly the north-western Bahamas, then exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the instructions of local authorities.”
It’s predicted that the storm will pass over the Bahamas on Monday before heading for the US coast, with Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas all bracing for impact in the coming days.