PHOTOS: Hurricane Dorian bashes the Bahamas

Damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Dante Carrer/Reuters)

Bahamians rescued victims of Hurricane Dorian with jet skis and a bulldozer as the U.S. Coast Guard, Britain's Royal Navy and a handful of aid groups tried to get food and medicine to survivors and take the most desperate people to safety.

Airports were flooded and roads impassable after the most powerful storm to hit the Bahamas in recorded history parked over Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, pounding them with winds up to 185 mph (295 kph) and torrential rain before finally moving into open waters Tuesday on a course toward Florida.

People on the U.S. coast made final preparations for a storm with winds at a still-dangerous 105 mph (165 kph), making it a Category 2 storm.

At least seven deaths were reported in the Bahamas, with the full scope of the disaster still unknown.

The storm's punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics.

"It's total devastation. It's decimated. Apocalyptic," said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief group and flew over the Bahamas' hard-hit Abaco Islands. "It's not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again."

She said her representative on Abaco told her there were "a lot more dead," though she had no numbers as bodies were being gathered.

The Bahamas' prime minister also expected more deaths and predicted that rebuilding would require "a massive, co-ordinated effort."

"We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country's history," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a news conference. "No effort or resources will be held back."

Five Coast Guard helicopters ran near-hourly flights to the stricken Abaco, flying more than 20 injured people to the capital's main hospital. British sailors were also rushing in aid. A few private aid groups also tried to reach the battered islands in the northern Bahamas. (AP)

PHOTOS: Florida prepares for Hurricane Dorian »

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A chair is caught in a grove blown there by Hurricane Dorian's powerful winds, in Pine Bay, near Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 4, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
George Bolter, left, and his parents walk through the remains of his home destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in the Pine Bay neighborhood of Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 4, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Mister Bolter recovers dishes from his son's home, destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in Pine Bay, near Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 4, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A broken plane lays on the side of a road in the Pine Bay neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 4, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the Great Abaco island town of Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, Sept. 4, 2019. (Photo: Dante Carrer/Reuters)
In this handout aerial photo provided by the HeadKnowles Foundation, damage is seen from Hurricane Dorian on Abaco Island on Sept. 3, 2019 in the Bahamas. (Photo: HeadKnowles Foundation via Getty Images)
Debris left by Hurricane Dorian litters Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport, on Sept. 4, 2019. (Photo: Yasmin Rigby/AFP/Getty Images)
People talk outside the National Emergence Managment Agency while waiting for an update regarding Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 3, 2019, in Nassau, New Providence. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
Strong winds move the palms of the palm trees at the first moment of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sept. 1, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
In this USCG handout image, an aerial view of houses in the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. (Photo: Adam Stanton/US Coast Guard via Getty Images).
Debris left by Hurricane Dorian litters Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport, on Sept. 4, 2019. (Photo: Yasmin Rigby/AFP/Getty Images)
A boat thrown onshore by the Hurricane Dorian lays stranded next to a highway near Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Volunteers walk under the wind and rain from Hurricane Dorian through a flooded road as they work to rescue families near the Causarina bridge in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Volunteers rescue several families that arrived on small boats, from the rising waters of Hurricane Dorian, near the Causarina bridge in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A woman who was trapped by flood waters during Hurricane Dorian is transported out of the area by volunteers on a jet ski near the Causarina bridge in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A catamaran thrown onshore by the hurricane lays stranded near a highway close to Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Julia Aylen wades through waist deep water carrying her pet dog as she is rescued from her flooded home during Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Tim Aylen/AP)
A handout photo made available by NASA shows an image of Hurricane Dorian's eye taken by NASA astronaut Nick Hague, from aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Sept. 2, 2019. (Photo: NASA/Nick Hague)
A car returns to the capital under the previous rain before the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sept. 1, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Strong winds from Hurricane Dorian blow the tops of trees and brush while whisking up water from the surface of a canal that leads to the sea, located behind the brush at top, seen from the balcony of a hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sept. 2, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A baby sleeps inside a church that was opened up as a shelter for residents who will wait out Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sept. 1, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Cars sit submerged in water from Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
U.S. Coast Guard Station Clearwater, boats litter the area around marina in the Bahamas after they were tossed around by Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 2, 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard Station Clearwater via AP)
Rain brought on by Hurricane Dorian continues to pour in Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Tim Aylen/AP)
Residents wade through a street flooded with water brought on by Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Sept. 3, 2019. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)
A road is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sept. 2, 2019. (Photo: Tim Aylen/AP)
Ocean waves are seen during the approach of Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1, 2019 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo: Lucy Worboys/AFP/Getty Images)
In this USCG handout image, crews conduct medical evacuations in support of search and rescue and humanitarian aid at Andros Island as Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater forward-deployed four MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the Bahamas, Sept. 2, 2019. (Photo: Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater via Getty Images)
Strong winds batter Oceanhill Boulevard in Freeport, as Hurricane Dorian passes over Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas Sept. 2, 2019. (Photo: Lou Carroll via Reuters)

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