"Everything is gone," said Howard Armstrong. "Every single thing."
Howard Armstrong escaped his home in the Bahamas with only the clothes on his back as Hurricane Dorian battered the area. He recalled the moments he lost everything in the dangerous floodwaters, including his wife, who drowned right before his eyes.
Armstrong, a crab fisherman, said the water was about 21 feet and came over the roof of his family’s Freeport home on Grand Bahama, according to CNN. He said his wife, Lynn, was standing on kitchen cabinets and only their heads were above the water. Armstrong said his wife got hypothermia as they waited hours for rescue.
“We were doing all right until the water kept coming up, and all the appliances were going around the house, like the washer machine,” he told CNN. “And then I kept with her, and she just drowned on me. She was gone so quickly.”
Armstrong said he managed to swim out to his boat and got to a neighbor’s house. He said he’s never seen such severe flooding in all his 58 years in Freeport.
“Everything is gone,” he told CNN. “Every single thing.”
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on Sunday, causing “extreme destruction.” As of Wednesday morning, the storm had killed at least seven people, according to CNN, and is moving north toward the east coast of the United States. Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas for over 36 hours, packing deadly floodwaters, heavy rain and fierce winds, the Washington Post reported.
All known deaths have occurred on the Abaco islands near Grand Bahama and officials fear the death toll could rise, CNN reported. Among the dead is an 8-year-old boy who likely drowned as his family fled the storm over the weekend. Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said on Twitter that the U.S. Coast Guard has begun rescue operations in Abaco and those injured will be taken to New Providence.
“We have in place and are putting in place other critical measures to respond as rapidly as possible to reduce any suffering and pain. There are many difficult days, weeks and months ahead of us as a people and as a country,” he added in another tweet. “Parts of the island have been decimated by Hurricane #Dorian. There is severe flooding, severe damage to homes, businesses, other buildings and infrastructure.”
The storm only began moving out of the Bahamas on Tuesday. It had stalled because winds in the upper atmosphere were too calm, the Associated Press reported.
The National Hurricane Center announced on Tuesday that Dorian will slowly move north, close to the Florida east coast through Wednesday, and pass near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday before going “near or over” the North Carolina coast on Thursday. North Carolina could see hurricane-force winds and the Florida coast could experience flash flooding.
The National Weather Service has issued a high-risk warning for floods in South Carolina and parts of North Carolina for Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Rainfall of up to 15 inches is possible in the area.
Hurricane Dorian was spinning less than 100 miles from the Florida coast Wednesday morning, “moving parallel to the northeastern coast of Florida,” CNN reported. A “life-threatening storm surge” and dangerous winds are expected along portions of the Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina coasts, the Center announced in an advisory.