First, on Great Inagua the damage is worse than we first heard. Heavy rain and 12-foot storm surges flooded the south side of the island and damaged or destroyed a number of boats, and damaged seawalls. Lots of downed trees, electrical lines, and roof damage, but as far as we know, no one was killed. Clean-up is under way but will take some weeks to be back to normal.
The worst news in on North Andros, Nassau/New Providence and Grand Bahama. First, North Andros took a direct hit with ripping winds and storm surges that resulted in major damage, and at least one fatality. “The sea came one and a half miles inland, resulting in extensive flooding from Morgan’s Bluff Marina all the way into Pineville, and from Lowe Sound Harbour into Fire Road,” said Ivan Ferguson, senior deputy administrator of Nicholl’s Town, North Andros. He added that the BTC tower was completely destroyed in the storm, cutting off all telephone communications. Volunteers in heavy trucks were out trying to clear large trees that were blocking the roads. Potable water and electrical infrastructure were also impacted. San Andros Airport is closed as is Fresh Creek/Andros Town Airport in Central Andros. Friends on North Andros say they are lucky to be alive, and that the area is a disaster. Stafford Creek Lodge was also seriously damaged with the dock washed away and flooding from the storm waves and tidal surges, plus wind damage to roofs and buildings.
Central Andros was not as badly hit though they sustained major damage. BEC power plant in Fresh Creek was blasted and it will take a while to restore power. Airport hopes to reopen in a day or two. Downed trees are everywhere but clean-up has started with heavy equipment being donated by the owners. Further south in Behring Point and Cargill Creek, our friends Charlie and Fatiah Neymour, Big Charlie's Lodge, report that they're all fine, and that their lodge is fine, but that the storm was terrifying, worst they've seen. Going south, damage was less severe in Mangrove Cay and in South Andros around Kemp's Bay mainly because the storm surge was not so severe. Still lots of clean-up to do, areas to restore power, but overall most businesses and fishing lodges in Central to South Andros expect to be back in operation in the near future.
No report from Berry Islands, which is a big concern as it's all low-lying and the Berry's are very close to North Andros. No report from Bimini either.
The south and east sides of Nassau is also a disaster, with 3 to 5 foot storm surges smashing into homes and buildings. Hundreds of people had to be rescued from their homes, but no reported fatalities. It will take at least a week to restore power and make a dent in the mess left behind by flooding, but we expect it to be a month or more before things in these areas return to a semblance of normal. Across the island on Paradise Island, the Rui Hotel suffered lots of external damage, but it supposed to reopen soon. Atlantis is operating with a full staff and minor damage is being repaired. Nassau International Airport is schedule to reopen tomorrow, Sunday, but our advise would be to avoid travel to Nassau for at least a week to give the people and government a chance to restore services and do their clean-up. And really, waiting two weeks would be even better for your vacation experience.
On Grand Bahama, another disaster, especially in areas like Eight Mile Rock and Holmes Rock. Eight Mile Rock is west of Freeport on the south side of the island, home to beautiful beaches and good bonefishing flats, and here 95% of the homes and buildings have suffered major damage, with roofs blown off by winds up to 140 mph. Plus the storm surge was huge, bringing waves crashing onshore and flooding inland. People we talked too were all afraid for their lives, and one person who was in Acklins last year after Joaquin, the hurricane that devastated that island, said he thought this was worse. Power is still out on most of the island but the biggest problem is potable water, which the government is making its first priority. Freeport Airport suffered only minor damage, but debris is everywhere and it remains closed. We don't have a report yet from H20 Bonefishing but hoping to hear from them soon. East End Lodge and Deepwater Cay report that they came through OK, with lots of trees and debris and beach erosion but the lodges are fine. On the West End, Old Bahama Bay reports that all the staff and people are safe though they have significant damage to the area. The private airstrip is open for emergencies and the receiving of supplies, as is the marina.
No report from Ragged Island but it was in the path of Matthew so hope people came through OK there. South Eluthera suffered big storm surges, flooding, wind damage, and power is still out, but clean-up is under way. North Eluthera, including Harbour Island, fared better, with Valentine's Marina on Harbour Island reporting no major damage, clean-up under way, and they are looking forward to greeting new guests this coming week.
As mentioned yesterday, Crooked, Acklins and Long Island, badly damaged last year by Joaquin, came through Matthew in pretty good shape; no major damage reported, and all lodges expect to be open this coming week. Stella Maris reports that power and phone service are working, Bahamasair is scheduled to fly to Deadman's Cay again starting tomorrow, and Stella will be opening for the season on time, October 17.
Reports we have from Abaco are that they came through well, will some flooding and wind damage, but clean-up under way. Black Fly Lodge reports everyone safe there and they'll be open for business as usual this fall.