At least 3 killed in Bahamas in storm

Frances brings winds of 105 mph

airport under 6 feet of water

September 05, 2004|By Matthew Hay Brown | Matthew Hay Brown,ORLANDO SENTINEL

NASSAU, Bahamas - Hurricane Frances flattened houses, tore open roads and flooded broad stretches during its three-day rip through the Bahamas, killing at least three, injuring dozens and knocking out electricity, telephone and water lines throughout the islands.

The strong, slow-moving Category 2 hurricane stormed directly over Grand Bahama yesterday, blasting the Caribbean nation's second-most-populated island with sustained winds of 105 mph and soaking the international airport under 6 feet of water. Gusts blew out windows, ripped out power lines and tore the roofs off government buildings.

At least one person drowned, and another was missing and presumed dead yesterday as rescue workers struggled to evacuate holdouts from rapidly flooding lowlands. Several others were injured on the neighboring island of Abaco as roofs collapsed.

The deaths yesterday were the second and third attributed to Frances in the Bahamas. A teenager in Nassau was electrocuted Friday. The U.S. Coast Guard continued to search for the three passengers of a Florida-bound pleasure boat that sounded a distress signal Thursday west of Bimini.

Wind and rain continued to ravage the northwestern islands into the evening yesterday. But as the clouds parted over the southeastern islands, a picture of broad destruction began to emerge.

On Mayaguana, a 150-foot-long crack, 2 to 3 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet deep, had severed the road leading to the main dock, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. Five houses on San Salvador were destroyed.

Thousands of people remained in shelters as crews began clearing debris and restoring utilities. In Nassau, the capital and home to two-thirds of the nation's 300,000 inhabitants, 90 mph winds shattered windows, snapped power lines and splintered trees.

Teams from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Pan American Health Organization were in the islands to assess damage, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency and a British aid vessel were standing by.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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