Two years after Category 4 Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Dorian hit The Bahamas at a merciless Category 5, causing considerable damage and devastation.
As the storm headed toward the United States, the East Coast prepared for the worst. In states like Florida, however, Dorian was present but considerably more forgiving, barely nicking coastal towns.
Business junior Kayleigh Holt is studying at Disney’s College Program in Orlando, Florida. Cornered by Dorian, she and her family stayed at a resort to await her delayed first day of classes. The hotel took the necessary precautions, providing guests with supplies.
“The day before Dorian was supposed to hit, the hotel staff came to every single room and gave us three gallons of water and a pack that had flashlights, batteries and a pamphlet on things to do, like fill up your bathtub with water,” Holt said. “Our resort had a backup generator, but my Disney dorm did not.”
When Dorian hit Florida, the sight was alarming, but not concerningly serious.
“Tuesday night we got the majority of the storm,” Holt said. “There was a lot of wind, blowing sheets of rain sideways. It was intense. There were a lot of pinwheel storms outside the main storm of Dorian. However, nothing super serious happened in Orlando, which I am grateful for.”
Coastal cities like Charleston, South Carolina, took the brunt of the storm. Sally Miller, Class of 2019, is currently studying at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston in pursuit of an occupational therapy degree. She, among other classmates, evacuated west.
“At first they said it was mainly a Category 1 and only supposed to hit Florida,” Miller said “But as of Saturday morning, it started taking a shift and hit South Carolina as a Category 3. After the Governor of South Carolina issued a mandatory evacuation, school was canceled until further notice.”
Miller explained that the governor ordered a reversal of major highways in Charleston to go west, inland. Although Miller evacuated out of Charleston, she described videos that had been sent to her of areas around her school flooding.
The hospital connected to the Medical University went into immediate action to address the storm’s arrival, Miller said.
“All of the hospital team has gone into emergency protocol,” Miller said “They have teams of people who stayed to prepare for patients. Since hospital employees wouldn’t be able to get to work, they wanted them to be there before the storm hit.”
Dorian’s impact was not limited to heavy rain. In places like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the storm caused fierce tornadoes.
“[My roommate] had a tornado hit her family’s house early this morning. It blew off part of their roof, and trees were down,” Miller said.
Despite this impact, Miller said the coastal destruction Dorian has caused is minimal in comparison to its impact in the Bahamas and the damage Hurricane Harvey brought to Texas in 2017.
“In the U.S., the damage is much less severe than what Harvey caused, but I know there has been significant damage and life loss in the Bahamas from this storm,” Miller said. “It’s really sad.”
Robert Korty, associate professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M, studies hurricane patterns and levels of intensity. He said movement speed plays a significant role in how devastating a given storm will be.
“Both Harvey and Dorian produced catastrophic levels of damage, partly owing to their intensity but largely owing to their slow movement after making landfall,” Korty said. “The eye stalled across Grand Bahama Island for about 24 hours, which is an unprecedented period of time to have a hurricane that intense hitting at one location.”
The East Coast was lucky in that this slow-moving Hurricane did not stall over the states in the same way.
“The region of very violent weather is confined close to the center, especially in terms of the wind,” Korty said. “The East Coast was fortunate in that the core of [Dorian] largely remained offshore.”
With relief efforts underway in the Bahamas, donations of money and supplies are being accepted online at bahamas.com/relief