Hurricane Dorian has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to batter the Bahamas with life-threatening storm surge.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian’s maximum sustained winds decreased Tuesday morning to near 110 mph (175 kph). But it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days.
Dorian is centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of Freeport in the Bahamas and is moving northwest near 2 mph (4 kph).
Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands tells The Associated Press that Hurricane Dorian devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.
He said Tuesday that the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.
Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven’t received dialysis since Friday.
Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph) and gusts up to 220 mph (355 kph), a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. The storm then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.
United Nations officials estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food following the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian.
A spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs. Herve Verhoosel says preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people in Grand Bahama island may need food, along with another 14,500 in the neighboring Abaco islands.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water. Matthew Cochrane says about 45% of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he ordered evacuations along the length of his state’s coast, which includes several low-lying islands, because if there is flooding on causeways, they won’t be able to get vehicles on or off the islands.
Kemp told Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday morning that he’s expecting Hurricane Dorian to batter Georgia with heavy winds, severe flooding, a storm surge and beach erosion.
He said a reverse traffic or “contraflow” on Interstate 16 begins Tuesday morning.
The Category 3 storm has been battering the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and flooding.