Volunteers with search dogs continue to scour neighborhoods flattened by Hurricane Dorian, while global relief agencies are rushing to get food and shelter Saturday to some 70,000 people in the Bahamas left homeless on two northern islands.
The death toll is now at 45, the Royal Bahamas Commissioner of Police said in a statement Sunday. Thirty-seven bodies have been recovered from the island of Abaco and eight from Grand Bahama.
That number is expected to rise drastically, officials said. Hundreds remain missing, likely buried under rubble on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands by the strongest hurricane ever to hit the archipelago nation.
“It was like an atomic bomb went off,” said Sherrie Roberts, who survived on the Abaco Islands when Dorian struck almost a week ago as a Category 5 monster, then lingered for days over the same wrecked places.
Search and rescue personnel who arrived with cadaver dogs on the Abaco Islands brought body bags and coolers to store human remains, said Joy Jibrilu, director general of the country’s tourism and aviation ministry.
Workers also brought equipment to count the dead and to understand the scope of damage, Jibrilu said.
Residents are trying to leave ravaged islands
About 1,400 evacuees arrived Saturday morning in Palm Beach, Florida, aboard the Grand Celebration humanitarian cruise ship.
About 1,400 evacuees arrived Saturday in Palm Beach, Florida, aboard the Grand Celebration humanitarian cruise ship.
Pat Allard, 83, of Massachusetts said she went to the Bahamas before the storm to take care of her condo. She held back tears as she described the horrors of the hurricane.
All the evacuees are properly documented to enter the US, according to Customs and Border Protection. Spokesman Michael Silva said all 1,437 are either US citizens, US residents or non-US Citizens with visas, or had other proper documentation to enter the country.
The cruise line said it filled the ship with food, water, personal hygiene products, medical equipment, generators, volunteers, and first responders, and headed to the island to provide first aid.
At Marsh Harbour, hundreds of people have lined up to take a ferry back to Nassau. The Royal Bahamian Defense Force Commander there told CNN he had enough food and water at the port and on the ship for everyone.
Many recounted horrific stories of surviving the storm by breaking through rooftops or swimming onto boats to try and ride out the storm.
Some reported that they had family members still missing, and that they witnessed friends and neighbors drown in the storm surge.
Ted Curry was one of more than 300 people waiting at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport trying to get a flight to Nassau, the nation’s capital, to stay with family. Hundreds more had grown tired of waiting and made their way to the island’s main port.
“The island of Abaco has been through and survived many hurricanes in the past. It didn’t take long for us to rebound, but this is different from anything we’ve ever experienced. This hurricane will set us back for years to come,” he said.
In the neighborhoods of the wrecked islands, evidence of the disaster is everywhere.
“When we were driving up, we could smell … death,” CNN’s Patrick Oppmann said about Bevans Town on the island of Grand Bahama.