The hurricane death toll is rising in the Bahamas, in what its leader has called “this hour of darkness”.
Search and rescue teams were still trying to reach some Bahamian communities isolated by floodwaters and debris today after Hurricane Dorian struck the northern part of the archipelago last Sunday. At least 43 people died.
Several hundred people, many of them Haitian immigrants, waited at Abaco island’s Marsh Harbour in hopes of leaving the disaster zone on vessels arriving with aid.
Bahamian security forces were organising evacuations on a landing craft. Other boats, including yachts and other private craft, were also helping to evacuate people.
Avery Parotti, a 19-year-old bartender, and partner Stephen Chidles, a 26-year-old gas station attendant had been waiting at the port since 1am.
During the hurricane, waves lifted a yacht that smashed against a cement wall, which in turn collapsed on their home and destroyed it.
“There’s nothing left here. There are no jobs,” Ms Parotti said. She hopes to start a new life in the United States, where she has relatives.
The US Coast Guard has evacuated some people from devastated areas by helicopter.
The United Nations, the British Royal Navy, American Airlines and Royal Caribbean and other organisations have mobilised to send in food, water, generators, roof tarps, diapers, flashlights and other supplies.
Marvin Dames, security minister in the Bahamas, said authorities were striving to reach everyone, but the crews can’t just bulldoze their way through fallen trees and other rubble because there might be bodies not yet recovered.
“We have been through this before, but not at this level of devastation,” Mr Dames said.
Mr Dames said the runway at the airport on Grand Bahama island had been cleared and was ready for flights.
Authorities also said that all ports had been reopened on that island and Abaco, both of which were devastated by the Category 5 storm.
On Grand Bahama, a long line formed at a cruise ship that had docked to distribute food and water. Among those waiting was Wellisy Taylor, a housewife.
“What we have to do as Bahamians, we have to band together,” she said.
“If your brother needs sugar, you’re going to have to give him sugar. If you need cream, they’ll have to give you cream.
“That’s how I grew up. That’s the Bahamas that I know.”
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