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As Hurricane Dorian batters the Carolinas, what’s next for relief efforts in the Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian is inflicting damage in the Carolinas, where streets filled with water, 105 mile-per-hour winds knocked out power to more than 200,000 customers. Officials in both states warned people to heed the storm, which actually strengthened overnight. And in the Bahamas, relief efforts mobilized for the monumental task of restoring devastation. John Yang reports and joins Judy Woodruff.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Hurricane Dorian is hugging the coast of the Carolinas tonight and still doing damage, with winds of 105 miles an hour. The storm flooded streets in a series of towns today and blew out power to more than 200,000 customers. It is also blamed for four deaths in the U.S., plus at least 20 in the Bahamas.

    John Yang reports again from Nassau in the Bahamas on the storm's progress.

  • John Yang:

    An all-day assault, rattling winds and unrelenting rain, as Hurricane Dorian batters the Carolinas.

    South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster…

  • Henry McMaster:

    We urge everybody to stay inside. If you don't need to be out, don't go out. And in this kind of situation, you don't need to go out. Stay off the streets. It's very dangerous.

  • John Yang:

    Overnight, the storm actually strengthened for a time as it pushed north just offshore.

    Rushing water flooded streets in Charleston, South Carolina. By day, massive waves crashed on the Folly Beach Pier near Charleston. Up the coast at Myrtle Beach, a foam-covered jeep was partially submerged. Onlookers took selfies as waves rocked the car.

    More than 800,000 South Carolinians were under evacuation orders. Some, like Michael Gordon, sought shelter in Charleston.

  • Michael Gordon:

    They're expecting a lot of water downtown, and it was best to get out. Prepare — I mean, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. And I'm preparing for the worst.

  • John Yang:

    But Chip Ervin and others decided to ride it out.

  • Chip Ervin:

    We just kind of waited and watched the storm to decide what was going on, and we have been through enough storms that we kind of just wait and kind of see how they play out.

  • John Yang:

    As the day progressed, Dorian lumbered toward North Carolina, where the Outer Banks barrier islands are vulnerable.

    Governor Roy Cooper…

  • Roy Cooper:

    Get to safety, and stay there. Don't let your guard down. This won't be a brush-by, whether it comes ashore or not.

  • John Yang:

    Cooper also warned of storm surges that could reach seven feet.

    Another danger? Tornadoes. One ripped through Emerald Isle south of Wilmington, leaving shredded homes and fences in its wake. In the Bahamas, Dorian's devastation was again on full display. Under sunny skies and along now calm shores, leveled homes and yachts tossed around a damaged harbor. On Abaco Islands, survivors faced their new reality. In a shantytown known as The Mud, a rainbow rose out of the vast rubble.

    Andrew Evans arrived in Nassau today from Abaco.

  • Andrew Evans:

    Everything in Abaco is totally destroyed. It literally looks like we were bombed. Everything in Abaco is gone.

  • John Yang:

    A flurry of rescue and aid groups geared up in Nassau, hoping to make it to Abaco and Grand Bahama tomorrow.

    Heather Hunt, an attorney on Abaco, started a group called Restoration Abaco.

  • Heather Hunt:

    As time goes on and the days go by, we have to add other things, like building materials and appliances or whatever else the needs are once we get there and get a full assessment.

    But, right now, it's just food and water, medical supplies, making sure everyone is safe and secure and well-fed.

  • John Yang:

    Her group rented a 90-foot barge to haul relief supplies.

    And celebrity chef Jose Andres is leading a team in the kitchen of the Atlantis Hotel Convention Center in Nassau. Today, they cook massive batches of pasta soup and made thousands of tuna fish sandwiches for survivors on Grand Bahama and Abaco. Today's goal: 10,000 sandwiches.

    Here in this marina in Nassau, some of these pleasure boats are being loaded up, ready to make the run tomorrow to Abaco island. These four boats are being loaded with supplies donated by Chattanooga businessman Lou Lentine. They have 20,000 tarps, generators, medical supplies, tents, toiletries.

    They expect to get offshore of Hope Town, Abaco, and they hope to stay there for three or four days and ferry all this stuff onshore, an example of people taking efforts into their own hands.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, John, you were telling us that you have just seen widespread examples of this, of individuals moving to do what they can on their own.

  • John Yang:

    That's right.

    In the spot, we talked about the group Restoration Abaco and heard from one of the organizers. Another organizer we met last night was Danalee Penn Mackey. She's a native of Abaco. She is now a mortician here in Nassau and, interestingly, is organizing other morticians across the Bahamas.

    And she told us the idea behind her efforts.

  • Danalee Penn Mackey:

    Me, as a funeral director, I'm told that there are the number of casualties arising. I have deployed a team of professional morticians. In fact, we were supposed to go today. We couldn't get in, but we're leaving in the morning.

    But the hard part for me is, I don't know if I will be retrieving my own loved ones. I have my mother, I have aunts, I have uncles, I have brothers, I have sisters, I have nieces, I have nephews all in the area where there has been no, no, no relief at this particular time, no rescue, no recovery.

  • John Yang:

    Just an example of people taking — making efforts on their own in the midst of great personal tragedy, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, John, you were also telling us about a number of nongovernmental organizations, how they are trying in their way to provide help and the challenges they face.

  • John Yang:

    In the last couple of days, there have been a number of NGO officials who have been privately complaining about the government's pace of giving them permission to take their efforts out to Grand Bahama, out to Abaco.

    They feel stifled, they feel frustrated that they haven't been able to act faster. But, on the other hand, there are other NGOs who say they understand, that they feel that they need to work with the government, not go out there on their own.

    Here's Joan Kelly of the Heart to Heart International Organization.

  • Joan Kelly:

    I would say that, generally speaking, it's important that we work through the agencies that exist here. They will be here long after we leave and were here before we were.

    Frankly put, this is going to be a long-term response. And I think everyone's going to need a long-term support. So that's, I think, most critical.

  • John Yang:

    We reached out to the Bahamian government for a response to the complaints of some of the NGOs. We haven't heard back.

    And I should also add that, among the NGO community, there seems to be a sense of optimism that things are changing, that things are getting moving, that perhaps tomorrow or in the coming days they will be able to get out and start their efforts on the two — on the islands.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, John, I gather we are only beginning to understand the full sweep of just how devastating this hurricane has been.

    And some of that sense we're getting is from these before-and-after images of these islands before and after this hurricane.

  • John Yang:

    Yes, that's exactly right, from social media, from people on the islands who were sending out pictures like these of the airport on Abaco, just showing how the airport has been inundated, the runways inundated with water, with sand, with debris.

    The force of the hurricane-force winds sitting on that island, sitting over it for more than two days, and we can see the devastation and the effects of that in those before-and-after pictures.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So much work left to be done.

    John Yang, reporting for us tonight from Nassau in the Bahamas. Thank you, John.

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