At least five people were killed as Hurricane Dorian unleashed massive flooding across the Bahamas on Monday, pummeling the islands with so much wind and water that authorities urged people to find flotation devices and grab hammers to break out of their attics if necessary, the AP reports. "We are in the midst of a historic tragedy," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. The fearsome Category 4 storm slowed almost to a standstill as it shredded roofs, hurled cars and forced even rescue crews to take shelter until the onslaught passed. Officials said they received a "tremendous" number of calls from people in flooded homes. A radio station received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a 5-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a grandmother with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. As many as 13,000 homes have been destroyed or seriously damaged, per the Guardian. US Coast Guard crews have been sent to help.
Other reports involved a group of eight children and five adults stranded on a highway and two storm shelters that flooded. Forecasters warned that Dorian could generate a storm surge as high as 23 feet. Police Chief Samuel Butler urged people to remain calm and share their GPS coordinates, but he said rescue crews had to wait until weather conditions improved. "We simply cannot get to you," he told a Bahamas radio station. In the United States, the National Hurricane Center extended watches and warnings along the Florida and Georgia coasts. Florida moved 20,000 prisoners to higher ground Monday; the center said the winds could hit the central Florida coast Tuesday morning. The prime minister asked residents of the Bahamas to open their homes to those who lost theirs once the storm has passed.
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