Last Updated Sep 3, 2019 7:23 PM EDT
The U.S. Coast Guard has been launching rescue trips to Abaco and surrounding islands, afterhit the Bahamas with 48 hours of hurricane force winds, 30 inches of rain and a storm surge of as much as 23 feet. The Red Cross reports thousands of homes are believed to be .
Now comes the desperate search for survivors. So far, the official death toll stands at five, but authorities expect that number to rise.
"My grandson's dead. I'd just seen my grandson about two days ago. My grandson just tell me he loves me," said Ingrid McIntosh.
Much of the islands now resemble a wasteland. Homes torn inside out, cars destroyed, trees stripped and toppled, residential streets now rushing rivers. Tim Aylen filmed himself and his family Tuesday fleeing their Freeport home in dangerously rising waters, their dogs in tow, exhausted.
Major infrastructure has been rendered useless. The Grand Bahama International Airport, for example, is under water. That's just one of the challenges rescuers face in the midst of such destruction.
Operations are spotty and some people are using jet skis and motor boats to rescue people. Families have turned to social media to connect with friends and relatives. Local rescue agencies said they won't be able to begin their work until Wednesday, but the U.S. Coast Guard said it has begun to fly in relief supplies.
In Nassau, the airport is acting as the staging area for the Coast Guard as they bring people in from the Abaco Islands. Conditions were poor on Tuesday, but they were able to bring back five people so far. The Coast Guard hopes conditions improve on Wednesday, so they can save more lives.
Norah O'Donnell and Nikki Battiste contributed reporting.