NASSAU, Bahamas – After flying over the devastated islands on Tuesday, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called the storm’s aftermath “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history.”
At least seven people have died and many more have been reported missing as a result of Dorian, which decimated most of the homes in Marsh Harbour, the capital of Great Abaco, and wiped out a shantytown known as The Mudd.
The storm’s high winds and muddy brown stormwater took out hospitals and airports, deluged roadways and trapped people in their homes.
A group of 30 people were rescued from floodwaters in the Abaco Islands on Tuesday, but many more needed help as search-and-rescue operations were underway.
About 400 people took shelter at the clinic in Marsh Harbour, the Pan American Health Organization reported. At least 20 critical patients were evacuated from Abaco to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau.
Extensive flooding in Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, where Dorian stalled for two days, damaged the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport, contributing to a public health challenge.
LAWMAKER URGES U.S. HELP
In response to the crisis, Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat who has family in the Bahamas, called on the Trump administration and federal lawmakers to make it easier for Bahamians fleeing the storm’s aftermath to enter the United States.
“I urge the Trump Administration as well as Senators Rubio and Scott to waive U.S. visa requirements for Bahamians seeking refuge post-Dorian,” Jones said in a written statement. “It is inhumane to do nothing while thousands of our fellow human beings are left to languish without drinking water or shelter.”
With many parts of the Bahamas unreachable by officials, many residents took it upon themselves to help their neighbors. Bahamians used jet skis and a bulldozer to rescue trapped residents as the U.S. Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and aid groups tried to get food and medicine to survivors.
By Tuesday, at least 29 people had been rescued.
Lea Head-Rigby, who helps run a local charity and flew over the Abaco Islands on Tuesday, described the scene for the Associated Press in apocalyptic terms.
“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated,” she said. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.”
By nightfall Tuesday, with no power on Great Abaco and much of the island cut off from communication, reports of looting and lawlessness surfaced on social media, where scores of people shared cellphone videos, pictures and other personal accounts of Dorian’s destruction.
Minnis said his government will be increasing security on the island. The prime minister and his team had tried to travel to Grand Bahama island but had to turn back due to weather.
“The area around the airport looks like a lake,” he said.