Survivors of Hurricane Dorian picked through the wreckage of homes ripped open by fierce winds, struggled to fuel generators and queued for food after one of the most powerful Caribbean storms on record devastated parts of the Bahamas.
Dorian killed at least seven people, but the full scope of the destruction and a humanitarian crisis is still coming into focus. As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. Aid agencies estimated that tens of thousands of people out of the Bahamas population of 400,000 would need food and other support.
“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told a news conference. “We can expect more deaths to be recorded. This is just preliminary information.”
LaQuez Williams, pastor at Jubilee Cathedral in Grand Bahama, opened the church as a shelter for about 150 people. As the storm ground on, Williams said that from the higher ground of the church he could see people on their rooftops seeking refuge. “They were calling for help, but you could not go out to reach,” Williams said. “It was very difficult because you felt helpless.”
With many telephones down on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, residents posted lists of missing loved ones on social media sites. Aerial video of Great Abaco Island showed miles of flooded neighborhoods littered with upturned boats and shipping containers scattered like toys. Many buildings had walls or roofs partly ripped off. Other posts on Twitter said entire communities were swept away. Photographs from the airport at Freeport showed a light plane torn in two, with hangars badly damaged and scattered debris.
Janith Mullings, 66, from Freeport, Grand Bahama, said she had been through hurricanes all her life but had never seen anything like Dorian.