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Fisherman watches helplessly as wife drowns during Dorian, says he lost ‘every single thing’

Click to play video 'Man watches wife drown in the wake of Hurricane Dorian' Man watches wife drown in the wake of Hurricane Dorian
WATCH: Bahamas fisherman recounts wife's last moments as Hurricane Dorian floodwaters rise – Sep 4, 2019

The water had crept up to their necks when Howard Armstrong watched his wife slip away.

“We were doing alright until the water kept coming up,” he said. “All the appliances were going around the house like a washing machine.”

Hurricane Dorian swept into Grand Bahama on Sunday, battering homes with devastating winds and sending surges of seawater rushing through communities.

READ MORE: Hurricane Dorian: A look at the destruction left behind in the Bahamas

The Category 5 storm fixed itself over the Caribbean islands for more than 36 hours before shrinking and releasing its hold on the Bahamas.

In Freeport, the main city on hard-hit Grand Bahama, Armstrong and his wife, Lynn, became trapped in their home as the water rose around them.

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“She was standing on top of the kitchen cabinets until they disintegrated,” he told CNN as strong winds whipped at his windbreaker.

The couple kept their heads above water for hours, Armstrong said, but then Lynn got hypothermia.

She eventually slipped under the water.

WATCH: U.S. Coast Guard assists with evacuations in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian hit

Click to play video 'U.S. Coast Guard assists with evacuations in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian hit' U.S. Coast Guard assists with evacuations in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian hit
U.S. Coast Guard assists with evacuations in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian hit – Sep 4, 2019

“I kept with her, and she just drowned on me,” he said, his voice choked with emotion.

The death toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas sits at seven, but officials have warned that the number is likely to rise as emergency crews reach badly-hit regions.

Armstrong said the conditions at his home worsened after his wife slipped away. He knew he had to escape.

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A crab fisherman, Armstrong decided to try and reach his boat, which was moored nearby.

“I didn’t even think it was there,” he said. “I saw my boat and I swam — I took a chance and I swam out to it.”

Once Armstrong made it to the boat, he tried to check on his neighbour, who had been crying for help all night.

He told CNN that when he looked into the window, he saw a woman’s body.

An aerial view of damaged houses seen from a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in Bahamas September 3, 2019. Picture taken September 3, 2019.
An aerial view of damaged houses seen from a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in Bahamas September 3, 2019. Picture taken September 3, 2019. (Adam Stanton/U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area)

Armstrong has lived in Freeport for more than 50 years and has battled hurricanes in the past, but said the flooding caused by Dorian was the worst he’s seen.

“Everything I own is gone,” he said. “Every single thing.”

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Armstrong was pulled to safety on Tuesday morning with just the clothes on his back.

He said he intended to wait in the area to hopefully recovery his wife’s body.

At this point, however, the focus of rescue workers is on survivors.

WATCH: Aerial images reveal widespread destruction of Abaco Islands by Dorian

Click to play video 'Aerial images reveal widespread destruction of Abaco Islands by Dorian' Aerial images reveal widespread destruction of Abaco Islands by Dorian
Aerial images reveal widespread destruction of Abaco Islands by Dorian – Sep 4, 2019

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis described the situation post-Dorian as “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history.”

Rescue teams have started combing through storm-stricken areas, searching for people stranded amid the destruction.

The full scope of the disaster is not yet conceivable, but some Bahamians who survived the storm have been chronicling their hardship on social media.

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Lloyd Rolle, who lists himself online as the vice president of a Bahamas-based construction company, has shared dozens of pictures of storm damage at his family’s homes on Twitter.

“[It] ain’t easy to keep reiterating and reliving that… Wouldn’t wish those events on my worst enemy,” he tweeted.

In the midst of the storm, he compared the sound of the wind against the house to a passing train. He said the strength of the water surges made it impossible for him to leave the house safely before the crux of the hurricane descended on his family.

READ MORE: As Dorian pummels the Bahamas, forecasters say 3 other storms forming

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“No we’re not leaving, don’t really have a choice, all the doors sealed with water pressure outside,” he wrote on Monday. “Couldn’t open them if we wanted to.”

Once the storm passed, Rolle shared pictures of what was left — roof shingles scattered among piles of heavy debris, collapsed fences and gaping holes in ceilings and walls.

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He also found family photos amid the rubble, relatively unscathed.

Rolle tweeted that his family is safe and that he’s thankful that it wasn’t worse for them.

“I promise y’all I thankful for life and everyone in my family in good health,” he wrote.

“But trust, sh*t traumatizing.”

The same can’t be said for other survivors.

Some of those who evacuated haven’t yet seen the state of their homes since the storm passed.

One Twitter user, who had a friend check on their home, said she “lost everything.”

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“Don’t even have the strength or energy to cry,” the woman from Freeport wrote.

Hundreds of emergency crews, police officers and marine members have fanned out across the Bahamas, particularly the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, where Dorian pummelled residents and infrastructure.

According to the Red Cross, more than 13,000 homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco — about 45 per cent — have been destroyed or severely damaged.

The decimation has impacted food supply, clean drinking water and available health care.

Volunteers using jet skis and boats have helped rescue families trapped by the floodwaters. The U.S. Coast Guard and Britain’s Royal Navy have also deployed teams and helicopters to help.

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The aid effort on the ground is underway and in full force. Other helpful offers are streaming in online.

While emergency crews work to reach flooded areas, Bahamians are using social media to ask others to be on alert for missing family members and friends who haven’t been heard from since the storm grew.

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Others are offering help in any way they can, some in the form shelter and some in the form of dry clothes.

Aid is also coming from Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated Canada’s offer of $500,000 in humanitarian assistance and support for the Bahamas to the island’s prime minister on Wednesday.

Trudeau said the Canadian government will remain in “close contact” with the Bahamas as search and rescue efforts continue and assessments on damage develop.