GRAND BAHAMA, Bahamas — Debris littered the runway and the inside of the domestic terminal, leaving wires hanging from the ceiling. Small airplanes laid broken and twisted, almost unrecognizable, after being thrown around by Hurricane Dorian’s winds and floodwaters.
The Freeport airport was inaccessible early this week as Dorian battered the northern Bahamas. Waves lapped the windows of the domestic terminal, videos on social media showed.
A walk through that same area on Wednesday exposed the scope of damage to the only international airport on the island.
“Look at it now,” CNN’s Patrick Oppmann said as he and his crew walked across the runway and through a terminal. “I don’t recognize it.”
The walls were almost completely gone, torn in by Dorian’s wrath.
“There’s not a wall standing,” Oppmann said.
Among the wreckage appeared to be the underside of a small passenger plane, separated from the rest of the aircraft, lying inside the terminal.
“You think of the force required to throw a plane from the runway into a terminal,” he said. “If anybody was in here, I don’t know how they would have survived.”
There was no power Wednesday at the airport, CNN’s crew said.
Officials at that time had not yet assessed the airport’s international terminal, they told CNN. The structure was still standing but had suffered obvious damage from flooding, the CNN crew found.
A critical hub is cut off for now
The airport is a vital point for the island of Grand Bahama to connect with the rest of the world. With it destroyed, it would be difficult for communities in need to get aid or to leave, if they need to, Oppmann said.
“It will be impossible for anybody who was injured or just wants to get off the island to leave from here,” he said. “Aid will not be able to come in.”
“It’s just a debris field now,” he added. “So, if help is going to come, it’s going to have to come through some other way.”
Fortunately, US Coast Guard helicopters and planes were flying over the island early Thursday morning, Oppmann and his crew said.
“This is incredibly encouraging because up until now there has been no sign of any assistance from the outside world to this isolated island,” he said.
Aid personnel and supplies also had begun to arrive at other sites and by sea.
By Thursday, the Grand Bahama runway had been cleared of debris, residents told Oppmann, but it was still unclear when the airport would reopen.