Front yards were buried under flood waters and snapped trees and downed power lines littered roadways throughout the Bahamas Saturday, as a weak Hurricane Isaias churned its way up the archipelago, knocking out power with its heavy winds and rainfall.
But while most of the country's 700 islands appeared to have been spared the worst, concerns mounted late Saturday as the storm's westward shift spared the island of New Providence but placed the system on path for a direct hit on the island of Bimini.
"Bimini could possibly take a direct hit from Isaias starting as 8 o'clock tonight," Basil Dean, the deputy director of the Bahamas Meteorology Department, said during a live broadcast on government-owned ZNS radio and television station. The tropical storm force winds, he said, were expected to start affecting the island of Grand Bahama shortly after.
Earlier, the Dominican Republic reported at least two deaths from Isaias, which lashed the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti, as a tropical storm. More than 5,000 Dominicans were placed into shelters to escape rising flood waters.
In the Bahamas, where shelters were activated, local officials said they were barely used, with many Bahamians preparing to remain at home. The country had not issued any mandatory evacuations Saturday.
While Grand Bahama was expected to be spared the brunt of the Category 1 hurricane, residents continued to be concerned. The low-lying island is leading the Bahamas with a record-breaking surge in new COVID-19 infections and is still recovering from last year's devastating Hurricane Dorian. The powerful storm caused $3.4 billion in damages, according to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank, as it slammed the Abacos and the island of Grand Bahama with punishing 185 mph winds and 25 feet storm surges over Labor Day weekend.
Capt. Stephen Russell, the director of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency, said Bahamians were being urged to remain vigilant, even in communities where the all-clear had been given.
He told the Miami Herald that he had been in touch with local administrators on the family islands where the storm had passed and so far "they've all fared fairly well."
"There are poles down on one or two of the islands and some trees are blocking the way. But there are not reports of injuries or fatalities so far," Russell said.
He said assessments were ongoing in both the southeast and Central Bahamas, where residents reported ongoing power outages and heavy rainfall.