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Updates from the hurricane torn Bahamas

September 05, 2019

Hurricane death toll in Bahamas at 30 as aid begins to land

Associated Press MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN,Associated Press 

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Trees left bare by Hurricane Dorian dot the devastated landscape in Marsh Harbor, Abaco, Bahamas, The storm’s devastation has come into sharper focus as the death toll climbed to 20 and many people emerged from shelters to check on their homes. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

ABACO, Bahamas (AP) — Carrying possessions in plastic bags, some weary Bahamians whose homes were smashed by Hurricane Dorian waited Thursday for a flight out of the disaster zone as an international humanitarian effort to help the Caribbean country gained momentum. The death toll rose to 30.

A few hundred people gathered at the partly flooded Leonard M. Thompson airport on Abaco island in hopes of getting a seat on one of the small planes picking up the most vulnerable survivors, including the sick and the elderly. However, the evacuation was slow and there was frustration for some who said they had nowhere to go after the Category 5 hurricane tore through the area, shattering whole neighborhoods.

"They told us that the babies, the pregnant people and the elderly people were supposed to be first preference," said Lukya Thompson, a 23-year-old bartender. But many were still waiting, she said.

Despite hardship and uncertainty, those at the airport were mostly calm. The Bahamian health ministry said helicopters and boats were on the way to help people in affected areas, though warned of delays because of severe flooding and limited access.

At least 30 people died in the hurricane and the number could be "significantly higher," Bahamian health minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday night. The victims are from Abaco and Grand Bahama islands and include some who had been injured and flown to New Providence island, he said.

The hurricane hit Abaco on Sunday and then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.

On Thursday, emergency officials fanned out across stricken areas to track down people who were missing or in distress. Crews began clearing streets and setting up aid distribution centers.

The United Nations announced the purchase of eight tons of ready-to-eat meals and said it will provide satellite communications equipment and airlift storage units, generators and prefab offices to set up logistics hubs. U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said about 70,000 people "are in immediate need of life-saving assistance" on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

A British Royal Navy ship docked at Abaco and distributed supplies to hurricane survivors. On Grand Bahama, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship dropped off 10,000 meals, 10,000 bottles of water and more than 180 generators, as well as diapers and flashlights.

American Airlines said it flew a Boeing 737 from Miami to Nassau to drop off 14,000 pounds of relief supplies. The airline is also giving frequent-flyer points to customers who donate at least $25 to the Red Cross.

Troops from the Rhode Island National Guard will be heading to the Bahamas to help. The Guard will mobilize three C-130J cargo aircraft that will depart from the Quonset Air National Guard Base on Friday, state officials said.

Some dazed survivors of Hurricane Dorian made their way back to a shantytown where they used to live, hoping to gather up some of their soggy belongings.

The community was known as The Mudd — or "Da Mudd," as it's often pronounced — and it was built by thousands of Haitian migrants over decades. It was razed in a matter of hours by Dorian, which reduced it to piles of splintered plywood and two-by-fours 4 and 5 feet deep, spread over an area equal to several football fields.

A helicopter buzzed overhead as people picked through the debris, avoiding a body that lay tangled underneath a tree branch next to twisted sheets of corrugated metal, its hands stretched toward the sky. It was one of at least nine bodies that people said they had seen in the area.

"Ain't nobody come to get them," said Cardot Ked, a 43-year-old carpenter from Haiti who has lived 25 years in Abaco. "If we could get to the next island, that's the best thing we can do."

Ked was one of thousands of desperate people seeking help in Dorian's aftermath. With winds of 185 mph (295 kph), the hurricane obliterated houses on the Bahamas' Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

Crews in Grand Bahama worked to reopen the airport and used heavy equipment to pick up branches and palm fronds. Lines formed outside gas stations and grocery stores.

"People will be out of jobs for months," 67-year-old wood carver Gordon Higgs lamented. "They'll be homeless, no food. Nothing."

Total property losses, not including infrastructure and autos, could reach $7 billion, the firm Karen Clark & Co. estimated.

On Thursday, medical officials moved hundreds of people left homeless by the storm out of the main hospital in Abaco to shelters in schools and other government buildings. Some were angry at being asked to leave, or at not being allowed to freely enter to visit hurt relatives, and a shouting match erupted at the main door between a small group of hurricane victims and Bahamas marines.

Abaco and Grand Bahama islands are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts and are home to many fishermen, laborers and hotel workers.

At the Leonard M. Thompson airport, Rashad Reckley, a 30-year-old saxophonist, played the Bob Marley song "Three Little Birds" for people who had lost their homes.

"I want to lift up everybody's spirits after all the tragedy that happened," said Reckley, who said he had exhausted his repertoire after playing for hours.

"They want me to play more," Reckley said. "But I can't think of songs to play."


Associated Press writers Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Marko Alvarez in Freeport, Bahamas; and Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.


 September 04, 2019

Bahamian official says many did not make it out of Hurricane Dorian

A United States helicopter was involved in the rescue mission

PORT OF SPAIN , CMC News- A senior Bahamian official says it would be “very difficult” for many people in Abacos to have survived the “sheer volume” of water that had flooded the island as a result of the passage of Hurricane Dorian earlier this week.

Director of Information Services in the Office of the Prime Minister, Kevin Harris, speaking on the Citadel Radio network here on Wednesday, said that he expects the death toll to climb as rescue workers make their way now into the areas that had been devastated by the storm, described as one of the most dangerous in recent times.

“The nature of what happened, meaning that the ocean really coming on to land, there were a number of homes and businesses completely submerged. So with the water now receding, I do believe when search and rescue get into there by today, it is expected they will find more individuals who may have passed away during the storm,” he told radio listeners.

Bahamas Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, who had undertaken an aerial visit to the Abacos islands on Tuesday, later told a news conference that two of those airlifted to New Providence for medical treatment had died, bringing the death toll to seven so far.

But he warned Bahamians “that we can expect more deaths to be recorded” saying that “this is just preliminary information”.

Minnis said the “sheer volume of water and the photographs and videos we had received during the storm, it would have been very difficult for a lot of people to make it out”.

The United States Chargé d’Affaires, Stephanie Bowers, whose country is involved in the rescue operations said: “We have one collective goal: to assist the victims of one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded.”

“Now is the time to come together and show what partnership means,” he added.

People in the Bahamas have taken to social media in a bid to contact family members and friends even as efforts are being made to restore telecommunication services.

People have also been flooding the state-owned ZNS network, saying that they have not heard from their loved ones since Sunday, when Dorian, then a Category 5 hurricane with winds in excess of 180 miles per hour, slammed into the Abacos and Grand Bahama.

Prime Minster Minnis has appealed to persons not to use social media to spread fake news and images of those killed in the storm.

“Let us have some compassion for the families of those who lost their lives. Let us pray for them. Please I ask you to avoid sending or sharing images of those who perished in the storm. Let us act with compassion. Do not make the grief process worse for families by spreading pictures,” said Minnis, who is also a medical practitioner.

He told a news conference on Tuesday night that part of Abaco had been “decimated’ by the storm”. (CMC)


Sept 03, 2019

Caribbean Tourism Organization/CTO 

Relief Efforts

Published by 'Barbados Today'

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 3 Sept. 2019- The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) expresses our deepest regret and sadness over the loss of life and damage done to the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island by dangerous category 5 hurricane Dorian.

In the wake of this monstrous storm, we have witnessed the pain of those who lost loved ones, the agony of so many who lost their homes and all their belongings, and the angst of an entire Caribbean concerned for the welfare of the people of these islands.

However, as has been demonstrated so many times in the past, we have weathered many storms, we are a resilient people who refuse to surrender even in the most difficult of times, and we are confident that the people of the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, with the full support of the Islands of the Bahamas and the Caribbean tourism family, will navigate the road to recovery together and emerge stronger.

With the Bahamas being an archipelago with more than 700 islands and cays spread over 100,000 square miles, the greatest impact of Hurricane Dorian is being felt in the northernmost islands of the Abacos and Grand Bahama, while most of the nation has been mostly unaffected.

The CTO offers our full support to the Bahamas. We have activated our Hurricane Relief Fund which has been established to help our people and countries rebuild after disasters. Please visit to donate to the fund. 

We appreciate your contribution and encourage you to be generous.