NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — Hundreds of evacuees were arriving in New Providence on Saturday from the devastated islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with horror stories of dead bodies still not yet recovered and describing the devastated areas left by Hurricane Dorian as similar to a war zone.
“People are confused right now, people are confused, people are angry, people are tired. We eat everything in this boat because there wasn't no food. I had to leave my wife, my children, so many people laying on the ground in the mouldy house,” Lorenzo McKenzie, one of than 600 residents who arrived on a mail boat.
He told reporters that while the water had subsided, the area looked like “Baghdad”.
“It looks like Desert Storm hit Freeport. Everyone taking their stuff out, throwing it outside, people try to salvage what they had, in Hawksbill it's totally devastated,” he said.
The Bahamas government has warned that it expects the death toll to rise significantly higher than the 43 deaths recorded so far as search-and-rescue teams enter devastated areas.
In a statement issued on Friday night following a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said that 35 people had died in Abaco and eight in Grand Bahama, the two islands hardest hit by the storm.
Minnis said that the deaths were a stark reality the country faces following the storm and that with many people still missing, the number of casualties will significantly increase.
“The loss of life we are experiencing is catastrophic and devastating. The grief we will bear as a country begins with the families who have lost loved ones. We will meet them in this time of sorrow with open arms and walk by their sides every step of the way.
“To those who have lost loved ones, I know there is absolutely nothing we can say that will lessen your pain and loss. We offer you our shoulders to cry on, our prayers of comfort and our promise that your loved ones will never be forgotten,” Minnis said, urging the media and the country to respect the loss of life.
Bahamasair has resumed service in Abaco and has started emergency relief flights into Marsh Harbour. But the airline said it would advise of emergency relief flights for Freeport as soon as the all clear is given. The airline also said that all people wishing to leave Abaco will be provided passage free of charge.