UN estimates 76,000 left homeless after hurricane as emergency officials say mortuary facilities ‘overwhelmed’ with bodies
Aid workers in the Bahamas said the devastation of Hurricane Dorian is “still unfolding” on Tuesday after the official death toll rose to at least 50 and tens of thousands of people remained homeless.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, nine days since the hurricane made landfall over the Bahamas, where it remained for two days, Sadye Francis, director of One Eleuthera Foundation, a not-for-profit rehousing people on Eleuthera Island, said some people will have “nowhere to go”.
“The true depth of the devastation in Abaco and Grand Bahama is still unfolding. Persons are being evacuated to Eleuthera by land and sea from Abaco,” she told a press conference for the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) in the Bahamas capital, Nassau, on New Providence island. “While some will remain in Eleuthera or travel to Nassau or elsewhere to stay with family and friends there are still others who have nowhere to go.”
The United Nations estimates that 76,000 people in Grand Bahama and the Abaco islands have been left homeless by the hurricane and are in need of help.
Carl Smith, a Nema spokesperson, said 2,043 people displaced by Hurricane Dorian were in shelters on New Providence, while others stayed with friends or relatives. He said more shelters will be opened as they are needed.
“We are making improvements as we address this disaster and seemingly hopeless situation. But there’s hope, we’re making progress,” he said.
It comes after the health minister, Duane Sands, confirmed the death toll had increased to 50. The previous count, on Sunday, was 44.
The deadly category 5 storm, one of the most powerful Caribbean storms on record, brought gusts of more than 200mph and a storm surge of close to 24ft and devastation – flattening homes and destroying infrastructure.
Caribbean emergency officials said mortuary facilities on the island of New Providence were “overwhelmed” with bodies of victims, and the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency said bodies were being temporarily stored in refrigerated containers.
It also reported increased environmental health concerns in the northern islands and a stench of dead animals and potentially human bodies.
The government estimates that as many as 10,000 people from the Abaco Islands alone will need food, water and temporary housing while the northern region is cleared of debris. It is considering setting up tent or container cities.
Thousands of survivors left homeless by the disaster are arriving in Nassau by boat and plane seeking shelter after their homes and livelihoods were destroyed.
Some waited in hotel lobbies, others were driven by bus to shelters or sought accommodation from friends and family.
The storm, which also hit the Virgin Islands, North Carolina’s Outer Banks and near Halifax, Nova Scotia, is believed to have killed seven others in the south-east of the US and Puerto Rico.
PUKmedia \ The Guardian