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Satellite Imagery Shows Extent Of Devastating Flooding On Grand Bahama Island


A commercial satellite image shows just how much of Grand Bahama Island is underwater following days of torrential rain and massive storm surge from Hurricane Dorian.

The image was taken Monday by the Finnish company ICEYE. The ICEYE satellite uses radar to look through the clouds, allowing it to take pictures even while rain continues to fall. The image shows that vast sections of Grand Bahama Island, including its main airport, are now flooded. The land that remains above water appears nearly black in the image.

The storm hit the island late Sunday as a Category 5 hurricane and then stalled, bringing a storm surge of up to 23 feet above normal levels in some areas. Some parts of the island are expected to get at least 30 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm's core finally began moving away on Tuesday afternoon.

Dorian is tied with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane as the strongest storm to hit land in the Atlantic.

The Red Cross estimates that as many as 13,000 houses might have been damaged or destroyed on Grand Bahama Island and the neighboring Abaco Islands, which also saw extensive flooding and where at least five people were killed. The organization is also concerned that salt water may have contaminated wells, worsening the potential humanitarian crisis.

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Geoff Brumfiel works as a senior editor and correspondent on NPR's science desk. His editing duties include science and space, while his reporting focuses on the intersection of science and national security.