Hurricane Dorian left about 17% of Bahamians homeless, and finding refuge won’t be easy

Updated 6:16 PM EDT, Tue September 10, 2019
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(CNN) —  

Patrick Joachin stood in line at a police station in the Bahamian capital of Nassau, hoping to get a document that would prove he has a clean criminal record and eventually help him flee to the United States.

“I have nothing left here – no house, no job, no family,” said Joachin, who was evacuated from the Dundas Town neighborhood in Abaco on Saturday.

About 17% of all Bahamians are suddenly homeless after Hurricane Dorian wiped out neighborhoods and ripped houses off foundations. That’s 70,000 people who have lost almost everything.

Joachin wants to catch a flight to Tampa, Florida, where his mother and sister are living, and stay there until it’s safe to return to Abaco. If he doesn’t make it to the US, Joachin has no other place to go.

So far, about 5,000 people have been able to escape the country’s hard-hit Abaco Islands. Many others remain stuck in the northern Bahamas in precarious conditions.

Residents are sleeping in houses that are still standing but aren’t necessarily safe.

“So many people here are living in homes that are not suitable to be lived in here in Freeport and in Grand Abaco,” CNN’s Patrick Oppmann said Tuesday from Freeport.

And those are the lucky ones.

In just one town, Marsh Harbour, satellite images show about 1,100 buildings have been destroyed, according to the humanitarian aid agency Map Action.