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A father put his son on a roof to protect him from Dorian’s surge. The 5-year-old was swept away.

Survivors try to pick up the pieces following Hurricane Dorian's destructive path across the Bahamas. (Video: The Washington Post)
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MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas — Adrian Farrington carried his 5-year-old son on his back as the father treaded raging floodwater on Abaco Island, where refuge was vanishing under a storm surge. Schools disappeared. Businesses floated away. And Farrington’s home, like many others, was no longer a viable place to ride out Hurricane Dorian.

Farrington, 38, along with his wife and their two children, moved from house to house in the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday, hoping for a reprieve. Blood flowed from the father’s leg wound. Then he spotted a roof he could swim toward. He sat down Adrian Farrington Jr. for a moment. The child, nicknamed A.J., wailed for his father.

“I keep telling him, ‘Don’t cry. Close your month. Don’t cry. Keep breathing. Don’t cry. Close your mouth,’ ” Farrington said.

Then, the father said, came the unthinkable: a powerful gust of wind sent his son tumbling across the roof and into the murky water, where he watched him disappear amid floating debris.

The father plunged his hands into the water, reaching for anything that felt like a human child. Clothes. Skin. An outstretched hand. A tiny sneaker.

“I ain’t find nothing. I come back up. I hold my breath and I gone back down again,” he said. “All this time, people carried my wife to safety and they calling me, but I ain’t want to go because I didn’t want to leave my son.”

Farrington was later rescued by civilians, he said. He recalled the harrowing incident from a gurney at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau on Monday, as he recovered from two leg fractures and a cut on his hand.

In the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, waiting for relief amid the bodies

Elsewhere on the island, at least 30 people died in the most powerful hurricane to hit the Bahamas in decades, though officials expect that number to rise after search and rescue teams cover more ground.

The family has diminished optimism that A.J. would be found alive after so many days lost. “Given the circumstances, I’m not that hopeful,” his older brother Richard Johnson told CBS News.

Farrington had a similarly bleak outlook. “A 5-year-old in that type of search, they don’t stand much a chance,” he said.

But he was not the only parent to watch a child swept away in the storm. Lashan McIntosh and her family had tried to escape a similarly perilous house. Her 8-year old son, Lachino, fell into raging water.

“And when I looked over, I saw him floating” she said. She tried to resuscitate him, but her efforts proved futile.

“I can’t believe I lost my son in the storm,” the grieving mother said just steps away from the morgue.

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