Hurricane Dorian fought on the night of Monday to Tuesday on the Bahamas, where he made at least five dead, the Prime Minister evoking a "historical tragedy" for his archipelago of the Caribbean struck by winds of extreme violence and by waves higher than the roofs of many houses.
In the United States, several million people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate the coast, which Dorian should graze in the coming days.
The hurricane was almost out of place over Grand Bahama Island, where it is expected to remain much of Tuesday with torrential rains and "catastrophic" winds, according to National Center forecasts. American Hurricanes (NHC) at 0300 GMT.
Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis, on Monday referred to a "historic tragedy" for this archipelago of 700 islands with very flat terrain, easily submerged by waves three to six meters high carried by the hurricane. The authorities announced the start of relief operations "where conditions permit".
An SMS sent by a resident of Grand Bahama, which AFP was able to consult, testified to the distress of the inhabitants trapped in this interminable cataclysm: "We are under water, can anyone help us? or send us help? Please, my six grandchildren and my son are in the attic, "wrote this resident, Kendra Williams.
According to testimonials on the social networks, the water level reached in places the height of the roofs of the houses. The waves swept the roofs, shredding the wood of houses that had been transformed into debris, as they did not rush into the dwellings themselves.
Everything is on the ground
"Look at this," said a resident of Abacos Island, Ramond A. King, in a video sent to AFP showing flooded streets littered with trees and power poles torn off. "We need help, everything is on the ground, look at my roof, it has collapsed, I'm alive, thank God, I can rebuild."
According to early assessments by authorities and Red Cross officials on the ground on Monday, some 13,000 houses may have been damaged or destroyed and the hurricane caused "considerable damage" in the islands of Abacos and Grand Bahama.
Dorian was downgraded Monday from category 5 to 4, but remains very dangerous, with winds of more than 215 km / h, according to the NHC. After its devastating passage to the Bahamas, the hurricane is expected to skirt US shores Tuesday night and Wednesday.
The states of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have ordered the compulsory evacuation of several coastal areas.
"If you're in an evacuation zone, go NOW," said senator and former Florida governor Rick Scott. "We can rebuild your homes, we can not rebuild your life."
In Washington, President Donald Trump has reunited emergency officials, citing a hurricane that "seems monstrous".
"We expect a lot of the coastline to be impacted and some of it will be very, very hard," he said.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency on Sunday. "The strength and unpredictability of the storm compels us to prepare for all scenarios," he said.
According to the American Red Cross, 19 million people live in areas that could be affected. Up to 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina may need emergency shelter depending on the impact.
At Jensen Beach, in South Florida, Joe Lewis, 61, was preparing to leave a park of almost desert mobile homes.
"When I come back, this place may have disappeared," he told AFP. "Nature can be formidable, the only thing that matters is your life, not what you have."