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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hurricane Dorian is still a powerful Category 4 storm. It's essentially hovering over Grand Bahama Island today. Over the weekend, Dorian left thousands of people on the Abaco Islands to the west without roofs, transportation or communications. At a press conference tonight, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the storm has left five people dead and substantially damaged property.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

PRIME MINISTER HUBERT MINNIS: The initial reports from Abaco is that the devastation is unprecedented and extensive. The images and videos we are seeing are heartbreaking.

CHANG: And Prime Minister Minnis called on his fellow Bahamians to show compassion and love for one another in the days and weeks ahead.

Joy Jibrilu is the director general of tourism for the Bahamas and joins us now from Nassau. Welcome.

JOY JIBRILU: Thank you very much, Ailsa. It's a pleasure to be with you.

CHANG: Now, I understand Nassau wasn't in the direct path of the storm. What are you hearing about the places that are more directly hit, like the Abaco Islands?

JIBRILU: Well, as the prime minister rightly said, Abaco sustained devastation the likes of which I don't think anyone could ever imagine and certainly very difficult for us as Bahamians to comprehend. And if I could put that in context, Abaco was absolutely beautiful - very picturesque islands surrounded by gorgeous cay - historical - in fact, the oldest lighthouse in the Bahamas was on one of the cays that was badly hit. So to see the before and the after...

CHANG: Yeah.

JIBRILU: ...It's absolutely gut-wrenching.

CHANG: Now, it sounds like damage is quite widespread there. What do you think the rebuilding process will require?

JIBRILU: You know, it's hard to contemplate. I think it's only this afternoon that we've been able to get people out to Abaco to begin looking because, as you know, the storm is hovering over Grand Bahama, which is very, very close. So getting people on the island has been extremely difficult. And by extension, getting people off the island to safety onto other islands has also been a priority.

And so the assessment has started this afternoon, and we will know definitely in the next 36 hours. But I have a feeling that we'll be building from scratch. Infrastructure's gone. So building roads, buildings, people's homes - you name it; it will need to be done.

CHANG: OK. Joy Jibrilu is the director general of tourism for the Bahamas. Thank you very much for joining us today.

JIBRILU: You're very welcome. Bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.