Bahamas struggles to cope with bodies as Americans trapped by Dorian’s flood
THE death toll from Hurricane Dorian is expected to rise dramatically as relief workers sift through the debris of shattered homes and buildings on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.
The most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Bahamas swept through the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island earlier this week, levelling entire neighbourhoods and knocking out key infrastructure, including airport landing strips and a hospital.
Hundreds, if not thousands, are still missing.
Officials say the death toll, which stands at 30, is likely to shoot up as more bodies are discovered in the ruins and floodwaters left behind by the storm. “You smell the decomposing bodies as you walk through Marsh Harbour,” 37-year-old Sandra Sweeting said. “It’s everywhere.”
Chaotic conditions around the islands were interfering with flights and boats, hampering relief efforts.
The medical chief of staff of the Bahamas’ only functioning public hospital said the death toll would be “staggering”.
The weakened Dorian flooded homes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks yesterday with a fury that took even storm-hardened residents by surprise, forcing people to climb into their attics.
Hundreds were feared trapped by high water and neighbours used boats to rescue one another. The now Category 1 hurricane sent seawater surging over neighbourhoods, flooding the first floors of many homes.
The eye of the storm came ashore at Cape Hatteras, Dorian’s landfall in the US after a week and a half in which it spread fear and kept people guessing as to where it would go.
Dorian has peeled off the coastline and is finally making its exit out to sea. It is expected to remain a hurricane as it sweeps up the eastern coast of the US today, although it is far enough offshore that its winds are unlikely to pose any threat to land.
Wesley Joseph walks through debris on devastated Great Abaco Island. Picture: Getty Images
The US Coast Guard evacuates refugees from outlying islands of the Bahamas. Picture: AFP