RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Hurricane Dorian made landfall yesterday in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm. It moved slowly across the Abaco Islands at about 5 mph. People jog faster than that. And the slow speed means the storm lingers and just drops a tremendous amount of rain. Here's Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday right as the storm hit.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRIME MINISTER HUBERT MINNIS: This is probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people. And I just want to say that as a physician I've been trained to withstand many things but never anything like this.
MARTIN: NPR's Greg Allen is with us now from Miami tracking the storm. Greg, good morning. It's been tough to tell where this hurricane is going to go, where it's going to hit. What can you tell us?
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Well, it's - that's right, Rachel, it's that the track is very challenging in this because it's moving so slowly at this point. We know that it's going to, at some point, turn and move north. But right now, it's still over the Bahamas. It's moved on from Abaco, where it spent the entire day yesterday. Now it's aimed at Grand Bahama Island. The storm, as you mentioned, is almost at a standstill. The latest information suggesting it's moving about one mile per hour. The National Hurricane Center says it's going to pound Grand Bahama Island throughout today and tonight. By tomorrow, we'll be watching for it to start to move north, and that's going to be important to all of us.
MARTIN: Have you been able to discern what kind of damage has been left in its wake?
ALLEN: Right. Well, we've all been just kind of watching to see what kind of information comes out of Abaco and the Bahamas. Pictures and video that we've been seeing since late yesterday show catastrophic damage there. We've seen buildings where roofs are gone. Homes are just totally destroyed. Surprising - maybe we shouldn't be surprised, but a very extensive amount of flooding from this massive storm surge and rain. You know, they're talking about maybe a 2-foot storm surge and as much as - I mean 20-foot storm surge and 2 feet of rain. People took shelter at hotels, schools, the hospital and the airport there. We don't know much at this point about the damage because information is just trickling out so slowly. We should know a lot more later today.
MARTIN: Earlier this morning, I spoke with the health minister for the Bahamas. His name is Dr. Duane Sands. And I asked him how prepared the Bahamas were for this hurricane. This is what he said.
DUANE SANDS: I think it's impossible for any country to withstand a Category 5 storm with little displacement or devastation. And so you can be prepared, but how well prepared can one be for a catastrophic event?
MARTIN: I mean, you know this, Greg, right? The Bahamas are - they're used to storms and hurricanes. And they build their homes to withstand extremely high winds. But when the winds are over 200 miles per hour, there's really nothing you can do, is there?
ALLEN: Right. And I think the sustained winds is what they really look at and I think they were saying they were 185 miles per hour when they came ashore, but that's still not like anything we've seen in recent years here. I think in Florida, they compare it to the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. Now, in Florida, we're not expected to see those winds and landfall, but that's why the track's so important. Here, of course, South Florida has some of the toughest building codes in the world, which were kind of put together after Hurricane Andrew more than 20 years ago. In South Florida, Miami-Dade County where I live, buildings have to be able to withstand winds of 175 miles per hour. That's less, of course, than what we saw there. But they'll be doing assessments after this in the Bahamas and elsewhere about building codes. But what really goes first always is the substandard housing, and that's what we've seen in Puerto Rico after Maria and in Florida in the panhandle. So that's probably where most the damage has occurred. But we'll see what will really happen for everything else there.
MARTIN: All right. NPR's Greg Allen tracking Hurricane Dorian from Miami. It is headed towards U.S. mainland and possibly the Florida coast. Greg, thanks. We appreciate it.
ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.