A boat resting among the remains of a leveled home. The yachts were scattered around this community of 300 people – dissolved, like discarded toys. Shelves full of books were still standing against the ruined wall, with its windows intact. The wall and roof of a strange living room were peeled away like a ribbon from a small house revealing a sofa and a dinner table.
The destruction of this once idyllic enclave in the Northern Bahamas cannot be worded.
"Words cannot describe it," said Sherry Roberts. "I don't wish it on anyone. It's like an atomic bomb. "
Dorian, the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Bahamas, wiped out entire neighborhoods when it struck a Category 5 force on Sunday. He ruthlessly held on for days, killing the same battered places over and over again while the residents hid.
As of Thursday, the official death toll was 20 – but Bahamas authorities said the calculation is expected to increase until the extent of the damage is clear in the next few days. neighbors and friends they haven't seen or heard from. All reports fell on Sunday. Satellite phones have invaded. Insecurity creates another layer of trauma. Residents deliver word of mouth to loved ones. Your mother is fine. Daddy's fine. These people were Medevaced.
At least 100 people have been rescued as small planes and helicopters, which yearn for the northern islands of the Bahamas as part of an international effort to reach affected survivors, power displaced people and further assess the apocalyptic damage left by Hurricane Dorian.
At least 80 people were rescued and evacuated Thursday morning by Abakos, a government official told CNN. Many had flown to the Odyssey Aviation Center outside Nassau Airport, where a CNN team saw rescue and relief helicopters and small planes landing and taking off.
Residents avoid shells and screen windows with mattresses.
Roberts held a bottle of water while standing with his grandson in the debris field where her home once stood. she cried. She wanted her family in Tampa to know that they had survived.
"Not only we all hurt," she cried. "We are no worse than everyone else. They all hurt and thank God for life. We have each other."
Fortified by previous storms, the residents of Abakos remember the evading shells released by hurricane force winds. They screened doors and windows with mattresses. Looking after that, it's hard to imagine how anyone survived.
A man described climbing on his kitchen cupboard against the backdrop of rising water, just inches from the breathing space. He went at one point before his son pulled him out.
"I found strength because I did not want my son to see me die this way," he said.
Others withstood the storm as they moved through their homes. When a window exploded in one room, they rushed to another, where the windows would burst again – a cruel joke.
After the hurricane, the starry sky provides temporary relief.
Abakos have been massively devastated, said Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minis. About 60% of homes in Marsh Harbor are damaged.
The people of Abakos are resourceful and independent. Many were born here. On Wednesday night, the stars filled the dark sky. The sense of relief for the survivors was dulled by the realization of absolute doom. The streets they knew so well now looked alien.
"The community is united," Roberts said. "The families have taken in other families."
How will food and supplies reach the island? some residents asked. A baseball field was cleared of debris to allow a CNN helicopter to land.
Where are the government representatives? others wanted to know. There have been reports of robberies. Military helicopters floated in the night sky, shining spotlights on the destruction. Again a temporary feeling of relief. However, when will helicopters land with help?
Their lives and their island paradise will never be the same, residents say.
Ray Sanchez contributed to this story.