FREEPORT, Bahamas - Videos posted on social media showed intense flooding and damage across the Bahamas on Monday, illustrating the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.
The storm pummeled the islands with so much wind and water that authorities urged people to find flotation devices and grab hammers to break out of their attics if necessary.
The fearsome Category 4 storm slowed almost to a standstill as it shredded roofs, hurled cars and forced even rescue crews to take shelter until the onslaught passed.
Video posted by one Twitter user showed wind shrieking outside of a home in Freeport, located on Grand Bahama island.
Officials said they received a "tremendous" number of calls from people in flooded homes. Forecasters warned that Dorian could generate a storm surge as high as 23 feet.
Video shot by LaToy Williams in Freeport showed a living room completely flooded, with a dog perched on furniture just above the water line.
Local news outlets reported that Freeport’s Grand Bahama International Airport was under several feet of water. Video showed the storm surge surrounding the airport.
In one video, debris was scattered throughout a neighborhood with power lines down and vehicles badly damaged.
Police Chief Samuel Butler of the Royal Bahamas Police Force urged people to remain calm and share their GPS coordinates, but he said rescue crews had to wait until weather conditions improved.
"We simply cannot get to you," he told Bahamas radio station ZNS, which shared reports from callers who said some people were stuck on roofs and in attics.
On nearby Abaco Island, Parliament member Renward Wells said he received reports of casualties but officials had not been able to confirm them.
Meanwhile in the United States, the National Hurricane Center extended watches and warnings across the Florida and Georgia coasts. Forecasters expected Dorian to stay just off shore, but meteorologist Daniel Brown cautioned that "only a small deviation" could draw the storm's dangerous core toward land.
On Sunday, Dorian churned over Abaco Island with battering winds and surf and heavy flooding. By midday Monday, the storm's top sustained winds fell slightly to 155 mph. It was crawling along Grand Bahama Island at just 1 mph.
Parliament member Darren Henfield described the damage as "catastrophic" and said officials did not have information on what happened in nearby cays. "We are in search-and-recovery mode... Continue to pray for us.“
Most people went to shelters as the storm neared. Tourist hotels shut down and residents boarded up their homes. Many people were expected to be left homeless.
On Sunday, Dorian's maximum sustained winds reached 185 mph, with gusts up to 220 mph, tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall. That equaled the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, before storms were named. The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190 mph winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.
Forecasters said Dorian was likely to begin pulling away from the Bahamas early Tuesday and curving to the northeast parallel to the southeastern coast of the U.S. The system is expected to spin 40 to 50 miles off Florida, with hurricane-force wind speeds extending about 35 miles to the west.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.