Bahamas Storm Damage Is 'as Though a Nuclear Bomb Was Dropped,' Says Head of U.S. Aid

The damage caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas looks like the aftermath of an atomic bomb, a top U.S. aid official has said.

The powerful storm destroyed thousands of buildings in the archipelago nation and killed at least 43 people—although this figure is expected to rise significantly as more bodies are pulled from the wreckage, Reuters reported.

"What I was struck by was the focused nature of the devastation," Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, told reporters in the capital Nassau on Sunday, noting that the scene in some areas of the Abacos—a set of islands and barrier cays in the northern Bahamas—looked "almost as though a nuclear bomb was dropped."

Dorian was a Category 5 Hurricane when it struck the northern Bahamas on Sunday afternoon with sustained maximum wind speeds of 185 miles per hour and gusts of up to 220 miles per hour—tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to make landfall.

Part of the reason it caused so much destruction in the northern Bahamas is that the storm hovered over the region for around 48 hours, moving very slowly.

Officials estimate that around 90 percent of the infrastructure on the Abacos is damaged or destroyed, while the United Nations' World Food Programme has said that around 70,000 people in the Bahamas—population 400,000—are in need of food and shelter.

"Home is more than four walls and a roof, it's the neighborhood where people live, their friends and neighbours, their livelihoods, comfort, and security for the future," Jenelle Eli, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, told Reuters. "People are concerned about their next step, but also how they'll earn an income and what their lives will look like in the future."

Many residents who were living in the hardest hit areas of the Bahamas are now fleeing. Around 3,500 people have been evacuated to Nassau via planes, boats and ships, while on Saturday a cruise liner arrived in Florida carrying 1,400 people, the BBC reported.

"We're dealing with a disaster," Carl Smith, a spokesperson for the country's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA,) said, adding that "authorities were doing everything [they] can to move as effectively and as efficiently" as possible given the circumstances.

However, some residents in the Abacos have been critical of the government's response to the disaster, saying that assistance had been slow to arrive.

"They haven't done a thing to help us down here," local resident Tepeto Davis, 37, told Reuters. "We are suffering out here and no one cares about us. We've had to funnel gasoline out of destroyed cars to get injured people back and forth. There's no gas, there's no food, no medicine, and no water."

Furthermore, there is concern among officials that Nassau does not have the infrastructural capacity at present to host all those who have lost their homes. Head of NEMA Stephen Russell suggested that alternative solutions were needed.

"We can look at the tent city concept and the container city concept, these are all support mechanisms to help us," he told reporters. "Jobs may be a challenge at this time but long term we can house them."

Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas damage, Abaco
Aerial view of Marsh Harbor after Hurricane Dorian passed through on September 5, 2019 in Great Abaco Island, Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian hit the island chain as a Category 5 storm, battering them for two days before moving north. Jose Jimenez/Getty Images