TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - As Hurricane Dorian parked over the Bahamas for a day in a half, residents in Freeport like Jason DeGregory hunkered down in their homes.
“In Freeport, in Grand Bahamas, we have a history of major storms,” DeGregory said. “But this one was different. You could feel the intensity.”
Luckily for DeGregory and some others across the northern Bahamian Island, they have a phone network company called ALIV which, he says, has pretty much been a saving grace for residents. Many who have been able to communicate on the ground have noted their carrier as ALIV.
“I was told that 70 to 80 percent of the island is underwater,” he said. “I live in a single-level home, and have been staying up every night. I don’t want the water to quietly come inside while myself and my family are asleep.”
Fortunately DeGregory’s home only suffered minor damage, but after venturing out across the island Tuesday, he says, it’s a much different story for many others.
“There’s a lot of damage,” he said. “It’s not as much damage as we’ve had from previous storms when it comes to the wind. We saw some power poles still up, but there’s a lot of tree debris in the roads, covering the entire island.”
DeGregory spent much of Tuesday with friends helping rescue those trapped in their homes. He says he’s seen many out on their own water scooters and boats rescuing people from their attics.
%INLINE%"It's a really bad scene,” he said. “There were dead [bodies] that were pulled out of houses on the eastern end of Grand Bahama. I don't know how many, and I don't know who. Right now, I'm trying to log down the names and the times that they've arrived of survivors, when they come by boat.”
So far, government officials have confirmed five deaths in the Bahamas. According to the Red Cross, more than 13,000 houses, or about 45 percent of the homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco, were believed to have been severely damaged or destroyed.
Freeport resident Sarah Picot-Kirkby was one who lost her home. Monday night, Kirkby says, she watched in horror as the hurricane began to flood her home.
“It just gushed in,” she recalled. “Pretty much between, I would say, 20 minutes, it went from just hitting the floor, to getting to our waist. We got out by climbing into my car. We got in the back trunk, took the brake off, and we pushed it out over our cul-de-sac and into the water."
She escaped with her 79-year-old mother, four friends and five dogs. At this point, she says they are just trying to cope and stay calm.