Hurricane Dorian's aftermath in the Bahamas

By Harmeet Kaur and Bianca Britton, CNN

Updated 5:41 p.m. ET, September 8, 2019
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5:09 a.m. ET, September 8, 2019

Bahamians don't know how many bodies might be under rubble in Marsh Harbour

From CNN's Paula Newton in Marsh Harbour

One of the areas most affected by Hurricane Dorian's fury is known as the Mudd, a small town in Marsh Harbour in the northern Abaco Island.

There, concrete walls were smashed entirely and roofs were blown away, making it difficult to even locate one's own home. 

Local authorities are worried that many victims might be under rubble, but they can't determine how many. In addition, recovering these bodies, the government says, will be a difficult task. 

Most of the residents of the Mudd are Haitian migrants fleeing poverty and some of them are undocumented, who are too afraid to seek help in Nassau out of fear of deportation.

CNN's Paula Newton reports from Marsh Harbour:

3:53 a.m. ET, September 8, 2019

Rumors of cholera and other epidemics shot down by Bahamas Ministry of Health

From CNN Health’s Jacqueline Howard

Bahamians who lost everything in the devastating passage of Hurricane Dorian were scrambling Saturday to escape the worst-hit islands by sea or by air.
Bahamians who lost everything in the devastating passage of Hurricane Dorian were scrambling Saturday to escape the worst-hit islands by sea or by air. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Bahamas Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization said that there is “no quarantine, cholera or epidemics in the Bahamas," in a statement shared with CNN.

“Floods can potentially increase the transmission of water-borne and communicable diseases,” the statement said.

“Nevertheless, there have not been any detected cholera cases at the moment, nor any increased number of infectious diseases due to the hurricane. The Ministry of Health and PAHO recommends that the population in the affected areas drink and use safe water and also continue to practice good hygiene such as hand washing to prevent water-borne diseases.”

The ministry said it will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates.

3:52 a.m. ET, September 8, 2019

Celebrity chef José Andrés feeds thousands in Bahamas

From CNN’s Sharif Paget in Atlanta

Celebrity chef José Andrés took to his official Twitter page Saturday from devastated Marsh Harbour in Abaco where he and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen (WCK) have fed thousands of survivors this week, and want to feed more.

Andrés tweeted that his organization had delivered 14,000 meals on Friday, at least 24,000 on Saturday and could deliver as many as 30,000 with additional helicopters. 

The renowned chef asked the US Coast Guard and USAID for any available helicopters, later going on to commend the US Coast Guard for their broader relief efforts in the area.

He tweeted overnight pictures from a primary school shelter in Marsh Harbour, adding: "I've met so many heroes here I lose count...we cannot let them down."

5:39 p.m. ET, September 7, 2019

Dorian is no longer a hurricane, but it remains dangerous

Dorian is now a post-tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest advisory on Saturday evening ahead of an expected landfall in Canada.

Dorian lost its status as a hurricane is because it no longer has a warm core, CNN meteorologist Gene Norman explained, though it is still a low-pressure system.

But even though it's no longer classified as a hurricane, the storm is still dangerous with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph — the equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for parts of the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, the center said.

"While the change in classification is technical, the fact of the matter is it's still a dangerous situation and people in the area should not let their guard down," Norman said.

4:46 p.m. ET, September 7, 2019

Recovery teams are bringing in bodies to a makeshift mortuary

A makeshift mortuary has been set up in Marsh Harbour, one of the areas of the Bahamas hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian, according to CNN's Paula Newton.

Newton said she saw at least two bodies on a truck at the site. The morticians told her that their work has been slow because recovering bodies has proved to be a difficult task. Many bodies are submerged in water and require dive teams to recover them.

"We are still waiting to do our work," one of the morticians told Newton.

As CNN's Gary Tuchman toured devastated areas in the town on Friday, he said the smell of death lingered in the air.

Search and rescue personnel who arrived with cadaver dogs on the Abaco Islands, where Marsh Harbour is located, 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.

3:20 p.m. ET, September 7, 2019

US says it's allocating $1 million in additional aid to the Bahamas

US Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green announced $1 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help people in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian. That brings USAID's funding for the response to more than $2.8 million, the agency said in a news release.

The funding will provide food, shelter, water containers and hygiene kits to people on the Abaco Islands and the Grand Bahama Islands, Green said. It will also help transport US government supplies to the Bahamas by air and by sea.

More than 47 metric tons of USAID supplies have arrived in the Bahamas so far to assist about 44,000 people, the agency said. It added that its partner, the Bahamas Red Cross, will also distribute supplies including hygiene kits, portable stoves and towels to people affected by the hurricane.

About 70,000 people in the Bahamas have been left homeless after Hurricane Dorian flattened their neighborhoods. The death toll, now at 43, is expected to rise drastically, officials said.

2:32 p.m. ET, September 7, 2019

Dorian regains strength as a Category 2 storm

Dorian has once again strengthened into a Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, according to a special advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm had been expected to maintain Category 1 strength as it moved through the Canadian Maritimes and then finally weaken when it crossed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

If Dorian maintains Category 2 strength when it makes "official" landfall over Halifax, Nova Scotia, it will be the strongest storm to hit the provincial capital since Hurricane Juan in 2003.

It's expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia on Saturday evening, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. A hurricane warning remains in effect for eastern Nova Scotia and western Newfoundland.

A quick refresher on storm categories: Meteorologists use the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to measure a hurricane's strength.

The system divides storms into five categories:

  • Category 1: Winds 74 to 95 mph (Minor damage)
  • Category 2: Winds 96 to 110 mph (Extensive damage — Can uproot trees and break windows)
  • Category 3: Winds 111 to 129 mph (Devastating — Can break windows and doors)
  • Category 4: Winds 130 to 156 mph (Catastrophic damage — Can tear off roofs)
  • Category 5: Winds 157 mph or higher (The absolute worst and can level houses and destroy buildings)
2:37 p.m. ET, September 7, 2019

She left the devastation to stay with her sister, but it hurts her heart that not everyone can leave

From CNN's Rosa Flores

Ceva Seymour, 56, evacuated from Freeport with about 16 family members, including two three-year-old twins named Paris and London.

Seymour described how the roof of her home on Grand Bahama Island began to lift up due to the high winds at the height of Hurricane Dorian. She said she and her husband used basic tools like ropes, nails and hammers to cinch the roof of their home to the floor.

"It was very intense. You couldn't sleep," Seymour said. "I prayed a lot and asked God to calm the storm."

Though her roof managed to stay on, others weren't as fortunate, she said. Some of her relatives who live on the north side of Grand Bahama Island lost their homes entirely due to flooding.

Now, Seymour said she and her family are headed to her sister's house in Port St. Lucie, Florida, until Grand Bahama Island has water and electricity again. And though the past week has been incredibly stressful, she said she's grateful. Not everyone in the Bahamas has family members in Florida who they can stay with temporarily. Others aren't able to leave because they don't have passports.

"Having to travel here is a burden eased off us," Seymour said. "Because at least we have an opportunity to relax, whereas some others in the Bahamas can't even have this privilege."

"It hurts my heart," she added.

1:07 p.m. ET, September 7, 2019

They're waiting at a port in Florida to reunite with family

From CNN's Rosa Flores

More than 1,550 hurricane evacuees are aboard a cruise ship from Freeport in the Bahamas that's heading to West Palm Beach in Florida, according to a Facebook post from the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.

People are already waiting at the Port of Palm Beach in hopes of reuniting with their family members.

Garrise Newbold, who lives in Georgia, is there with her four-year-old son. She's hoping to reunite with about six relatives, including her grandmother and her great-grandmother. Her family had been without water and electricity for a while, Newbold said, so when she heard there would be a cruise ship helping to evacuate people from the Bahamas, she made sure the word got to her family members.

Garrise Newbold awaits the arrival of a cruise ship carrying her family members.
Garrise Newbold awaits the arrival of a cruise ship carrying her family members.

Newbold said her family members joined a long line of people early in the morning to board the ship in Freeport. Luckily, they managed to get on.

Weak phone connections have made it tough to communicate, Newbold said, so she's only managed to speak to her relatives every two days or so.

"It's been very stressful," she said. "We just didn't know. The thought of not knowing anything is the most difficult part."

Daisy Rolle is at the port in search of her sister Loretta Rahming.

Rolle said her sister had been staying at an assisted living center on the island of Bimini ever since she suffered a stroke about two years ago and was being tended to by a caretaker. Rolle said she spoke to her sister's caretaker on Monday, a day after the storm hit, but hasn't been able to make contact since then.

"I'm worried because I desperately need to hear if she is okay," Rolle said. "I need to get her over there because she had a stroke two years ago and she cannot do anything for herself. If she can get around family members, we can take better care of her."

Rolle said she has been reaching out to people from the island of Bimini, where she is from, to see if they can check on her sister, but that they've had difficulty accessing the home due to the damage and debris from the storm. So now, all Rolle can do is wait.

"I was hoping that maybe she'd be here but that hasn't happened," Rolle said. "I'm hoping that maybe in the next few days that somewhere, I can get to her or she can get to me."