Shel­ters turn evac­uees away in Ba­hamas

The Prince George Citizen - - News - DANICA COTO

NAS­SAU, Ba­hamas — Des­per­a­tion mounted in the Ba­hamas on Tues­day as hur­ri­cane sur­vivors ar­riv­ing in the cap­i­tal by boat and plane were turned away from over­flow­ing shel­ters.

As govern­ment of­fi­cials gave as­sur­ances at a news con­fer­ence that more shel­ters would be opened as needed, Julie Green and her fam­ily gath­ered out­side the head­quar­ters of the is­land’s emer­gency man­age­ment agency, seek­ing help.

“We need a shel­ter des­per­ately,” the 35-year-old for­mer wait­ress from Great Abaco said as she cra­dled one of her sevem-month-old twins on her hip, his lit­tle face fur­rowed. Nearby, her hus­band held the other twin boy as their four other chil­dren wan­dered list­lessly nearby. One kept cry­ing de­spite re­ceiv­ing com­fort­ing hugs.

Hur­ri­cane Do­rian dev­as­tated the Abaco and Grand Ba­hama is­lands in the north­ern part of the ar­chi­pel­ago a week ago, leav­ing at least 50 dead, with the toll cer­tain to rise as the search for bod­ies goes on.

Nearly 5,000 peo­ple have ar­rived in Nas­sau by plane and by boat, and many were strug­gling to start new lives, un­clear of how or where to be­gin. More than 2,000 of them were stay­ing in shel­ters, ac­cord­ing to govern­ment fig­ures.

Green said that shel­ter of­fi­cials told her they couldn’t ac­cept such young chil­dren, and that the fam­ily has slept in the home of a dif­fer­ent per­son ev­ery night since ar­riv­ing Fri­day in New Prov­i­dence, the is­land where Nas­sau is sit­u­ated.

“We’re just ex­hausted,” she said. “We’re just walk­ing up and down, ask­ing peo­ple if they know where we can stay.”

Erick Noel, a 37-year-old land­scaper from Abaco with a wife and four chil­dren, found him­self in the same sit­u­a­tion. They will have to leave a friend’s house by Wed­nes­day and had not yet found a shel­ter where they could stay.

“They are full, full, full,” he said. “I keep look­ing for a place to go.”

Mean­while, govern­ment of­fi­cials said they were help­ing all evac­uees and con­sid­er­ing build­ing tem­po­rary hous­ing, per­haps tent or con­tainer cities.

“We are deal­ing with a dis­as­ter,” said Carl Smith, spokesman for the Ba­hamas’ Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency. “It takes time to move through the chaos. We are re­spond­ing to the needs.”

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