GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Hurricane Dorian's impact on the northern islands of the Bahamas is hard for even experienced relief workers to put into words.
"It's total devastation," said Basil Christie, a graduate of St John's University in Minnesota who is now the hurricane relief coordinator for the Archdiocese of Nassau. "This one is going to be a serious challenge because you can't get to the islands. Both airports are underwater, so we can't travel there."
On Tuesday and Wednesday, only military helicopters were allowed in and out of the hardest hit areas of Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands.
That means Christie spent time coordinating food and supply drives in Nassau, while also preparing for an influx of people.
"We are trying to identify homes and schools for the children and the families when they are able to come to Nassau," Christie said.
He's also trying to spearhead a communication effort with the St. Francis De Sales catholic school, located in the Marsh Harbour area of the Abaco Islands.
Basil Christie: "That's completely destroyed, and school was to have been opened this week. There's no school. There's no building there."
Kent Erdahl: "Are those students accounted for?"
Basil Christie: "Only some of them. We're still trying. The difficulty is we have no communication."
This is why Christie is asking for prayers, as they watch the number of confirmed deaths now reach 20.
"We are certain that there are considerably more than that," he said. "There are whole families that are missing, we can't find."
Basil says any financial assistance to the Archdiocese of Nassau or the Red Cross will be helpful in the extensive rebuilding effort. He says the building code on the islands required buildings to withstand winds of 150 miles per hour, but Dorian packed 185 mile per hour winds that were sustained for a day and a half.