The world is focused on the Bahamas, where thousands are just beginning the long and painful struggle to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Dorian.
International search-and-rescue teams are spreading across Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands looking for survivors. Crews have started clearing the streets of debris to set up emergency food and water distribution centers.
The U.S. Coast Guard and British Royal Navy have ships docked off the islands, and the United Nations is sending in tons of ready-to-eat meals and satellite communications equipment.
The Royal Caribbean and Walt Disney cruise lines, which usually carry happy tourists to Bahamian resorts, are instead using ships to deliver food, water, flashlights and other vital aid.
Death toll at 23
The death toll on the Bahamas stood at 23 late Thursday, but with entire villages and marinas wiped off the map, officials say they have no doubt that number will rise.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis calls the damage left by Dorian one of the greatest crises in his country’s history.
“As prime minister, I assure you that no efforts will be spared in rescuing those still in danger, feeding those who are hungry and providing shelter to those who are without homes,” he said. “Our response will be day and night, day after day, week after week, month after month until the lives of our people return to some degree of normalcy.”
Dorian spent Thursday pummeling North and South Carolina with strong winds and heavy rain, along with causing more than a dozen tornadoes and waterspouts that led to additional damage.
Dorian landfall forecast
Forecasters do not expect Dorian to make a direct landfall Friday but will instead skirt the North Carolina coast, bringing life-threatening storm surges to North Carolina and southern Virginia before moving away from land.
Dorian will remain a potent storm straight into the weekend, however, with tropical storm warnings posted as far north as Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, according to the National Hurricane Center.