As It Happens

This contractor has been rescuing people on his jet ski in the Bahamas

D'Sean Smith has spent the last two days out on his jet ski with his buddies rescuing people stranded in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

D'Sean Smith says Hurricane Dorian has left people trapped in their flooded homes with 'no help in sight'

D'Sean Smith is one of several Bahamians who have been been rescuing people trapped in their homes in Dorian's aftermath with the help of personal water crafts like Jet Skis and Sea Doos. (Submitted by d'Sean Smith)
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D'Sean Smith has spent the last two days out on his jet ski with his buddies rescuing people stranded in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

The Grand Bahama Island contractor says people are trapped inside their flooded homes, on their roofs or atop their submerged cars desperately waiting for help. 

Local rescue workers are overwhelmed, he said, so everyday citizens like him are pitching in. 

"We rescued a government official, lots of families. Mainly families — small kids, women, husbands," Smith told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"I think a lot of them were traumatized because of the experience. There were a few that we met in terms of families just sitting on car roofs waiting to be rescued, but there was really no help in sight. We just happened to be there." 

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. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

Dorian was losing strength on Tuesday as it churned closer to the Florida coast. It has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane.

But it was raging strong when it battered the Bahamas on Monday. The most powerful storm to ever hit the islands destroyed tens of thousands of homes, caused at least five deaths, and left catastrophic flooding in its wake.

Smith first set out on his personal water craft to rescue one of his friends who was stranded with his family. But once he arrived on the scene, his friend immediately started telling him about others in need. 

Soon enough, he and his friends were out on the flooded streets rescuing people full time, he said.

Word has got out about what they're doing, and he said he's received over 200 phone calls and WhatsApp messages from folks in need.

A woman walks in a flooded street after the effects of Hurricane Dorian arrived in Nassau, Bahamas. (John Marc Nutt/Reuters)

He says they rescued at least 40 people on Monday and another 20 on Tuesday. They've helped elderly people, small children, people with medical needs and a pregnant woman.

"I am seeing a lot of destroyed homes," he said. "The rain feels like small pebbles just kind of pounding at you."

Smith and his friends are just a handful of the people in the Bahamas taking rescue operations into their own hands.

The Bahamas government on Tuesday sent out an "urgent plea" for residents with small boats, water scooters, flatbed trucks and buses to join the rescue effort

"We're resilient in that we know that our country's resources are limited. So I could say that the average citizen, a lot of people, kind of chip in and help with assisting people," Smith said. 

"Fortunately, we do have a lot of expertise in these types of disasters."

Submerged car sit submerged in water from Hurricane Dorian in Freeport. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

Asked how he's holding up personally, d'Sean said: "My business was flooded, my home was flooded, but my family's safe, so I'm pretty well."

Despite the mounting calls, he admitted he's overdue for a break. 

"I was pretty much on the road from 7 o'clock this morning. I was out all day yesterday," he said. "I'm going give my wife a heart attack if I keep at it."

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from The Associated Press. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. 

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