Posted on September 6, 2019

In the Bahamas, ‘People Are Shooting Each Other for Food and Water’

Ryan Fahey, Sophie Tanno, et al., Daily Mail, September 6, 2019

The death toll from devastating Hurricane Dorian will be ‘staggering’ with thousands still missing, officials have warned amid reports looters are ‘trying to shoot people’ in the scramble for food and water.

Up to 70,000 are in need of ‘life-saving assistance’ while Great Abaco is said to be virtually uninhabitable, with bodies piled up and witnesses say there is a ‘smell of death’ with corpses floating in the water.

While the official death toll stands at 30, that number is expected to rise today and hundreds of body bags have been ordered along with extra freezers.

A massive international relief effort was ramped up today as survivors revealed horrifying details of the ‘apocalyptic’ aftermath of the 185mph, Category-5 storm.

One of them, Alicia Cooke, broke down in tears as she revealed: ‘Everything is gone, people are starting to panic. Pillaging, looting, trying to shoot people for food and water. It’s just no way everyone’s going to get out.’

‘No homes. No banks. No gas stations. No hardware stores. Everything is gone,’ she added.

Hundreds have gathered hoping to be evacuated today, but efforts have been complicated by flooded runways at Grand Bahama International Airport.

Addressing fears the death toll from the disaster will climb, Health Minister Duane Sands warned: ‘Let me say that I believe the number will be staggering.’

Some locals called the government’s initial official death toll a tragic underestimate.

‘You smell the decomposing bodies as you walk through Marsh Harbour,’ said Sandra Sweeting, 37, in an interview amid the wreckage on Great Abaco. ‘It’s everywhere. There are a lot of people who aren’t going to make it off this island.’

‘I work part-time in a funeral home, I know what death smells like,’ said Anthony Thompson, 27. ‘There must be hundreds. Hundreds.’

Extra security has been deployed with witnesses seeing residents breaking into liquor stores and supermarkets, carrying off goods in bags or filling their vehicles. Local militias have been formed to clamp down on the widespread looting.

The Minister of National Security was deployed to Abaco yesterday to establish order amid reports of looting. The island has been rendered uninhabitable by the storm.

The storm struck the island chain as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane on Sunday and stalled over Abaco and Grand Bahama for the following two days as 185mph winds and torrential rains ravaged countless communities.

There is not yet a government evacuation effort but Royal Navy ships and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force have offered a few spaces on some of their ships.

Hundreds of people have turned up at the docks carrying bits of scavenged possessions in duffel bags piled in shopping carts.

‘It’s going to get crazy soon,’ said Serge Simon, 39, who drives an ice truck and was waiting with his wife and two sons, aged five months old and four, at the port. ‘There’s no food, no water. There are bodies in the water. People are going to start getting sick.


Despite hardship and uncertainty, those at the airport were mostly calm. The Bahamian health ministry said helicopters and boats were on the way to help people in affected areas, though officials warned of delays because of severe flooding and limited access.

At least 30 people died in the hurricane and the number could be ‘significantly higher,’ Bahamian health minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press in a telephone interview late Thursday. The victims are from Abaco and Grand Bahama islands and include some who died from injuries after being flown to New Providence island, he said.

The hurricane hit Abaco on Sunday and then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.

On Thursday, emergency officials fanned out across stricken areas to track down people who were missing or in distress. Crews began clearing streets and setting up aid distribution centers.

The United Nations announced the purchase of eight tons of ready-to-eat meals and said it will provide satellite communications equipment and airlift storage units, generators and prefab offices to set up logistics hubs. U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said about 70,000 people ‘are in immediate need of life-saving assistance’ on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

A British Royal Navy ship docked at Abaco and distributed supplies to hurricane survivors. On Grand Bahama, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship dropped off 10,000 meals, 10,000 bottles of water and more than 180 generators, as well as diapers and flashlights.

American Airlines said it flew a Boeing 737 from Miami to Nassau to drop off 14,000 pounds of relief supplies. The airline is also giving frequent-flyer points to customers who donate at least $25 to the Red Cross.

Troops from the Rhode Island National Guard will be heading to the Bahamas to help. The Guard 0will mobilize three C-130J cargo aircraft that will depart from the Quonset Air National Guard Base on Friday, state officials said

Some dazed survivors of Hurricane Dorian made their way back to a shantytown where they used to live, hoping to gather up some of their soggy belongings.

The community was known as The Mudd — or ‘Da Mudd,’ as it’s often pronounced — and it was built by thousands of Haitian migrants over decades. It was razed in a matter of hours by Dorian, which reduced it to piles of splintered plywood and two-by-fours 4 and 5 feet deep, spread over an area equal to several football fields.

A helicopter buzzed overhead as people picked through the debris, avoiding a body that lay tangled underneath a tree branch next to twisted sheets of corrugated metal, its hands stretched toward the sky. It was one of at least nine bodies that people said they had seen in the area.


{snip} Crews in Grand Bahama worked to reopen the airport and used heavy equipment to pick up branches and palm fronds. Lines formed outside gas stations and grocery stores.

‘People will be out of jobs for months,’ 67-year-old wood carver Gordon Higgs lamented. ‘They’ll be homeless, no food. Nothing.’

Total property losses, not including infrastructure and autos, could reach $7 billion, the firm Karen Clark & Co. estimated.

On Thursday, medical officials moved hundreds of people left homeless by the storm out of the main hospital in Abaco to shelters in schools and other government buildings. Some were angry at being asked to leave, or at not being allowed to freely enter to visit hurt relatives, and a shouting match erupted at the main door between a small group of hurricane victims and Bahamian marines.

Abaco and Grand Bahama islands are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts and are home to many fishermen, laborers and hotel workers.


Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Dorian left ‘generational devastation’ and asked for prayers for the thousands of families affected.

The Bahamian government sent hundreds of police and marines into the stricken islands, along with doctors, nurses and other health care workers.

The US Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and relief organizations including the UN and the Red Cross joined the burgeoning effort to rush food and medicine to survivors and lift the most desperate people to safety by helicopter.

UN chief Lowcock said he told Prime Minister Hubert Minnis that he was releasing $1 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund immediately to deal with these priorities as well as for medical supplies and services for Grand Bahama.

He said the United Nations began gathering data Wednesday with officials in the region ‘so we really understand where the most vulnerable people are and what their precise needs are.’

President Donald Trump has also offered his condolences and said the United States will provide all appropriate support to the people of the Bahamas during the Bahamian government’s response to Hurricane Dorian.

An unknown number of people were trapped in their homes waiting for help as the storm passed and for days afterward.


‘Abaco is no more,’ Allen told AP. Exactly a week ago, it was ‘the most beautiful place you wanted to be’, he said.


Several hundred people are now temporarily living at the center, the island’s main hospital.


Officials are working to evacuate people to the capital in Nassau, but their efforts have been complicated by flooded runways at Grand Bahama International Airport.


Aerial footage showed scenes of catastrophic damage, with hundreds of homes missing roofs, cars submerged or overturned, widespread flooding and boats reduced to matchwood.

Bahamas residents ‘endured hours and days of horror, fearing for their lives and the lives of their loved ones,’ Minnis said.

After it left the Bahamas, Dorian regained strength as it pushed up the southeastern US coast as a Category 3 hurricane, lashing the Carolinas with tropical storm-force winds after millions of people were warned to clear out.

By Thursday morning, Dorian had still-dangerous 115 mph wind and was scraping the Carolinas with the potential for over a foot of rain in some spots by Friday.

Forecasters warned of a life-threatening storm surge along the coasts. The storm was centered about 70 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, moving north at 8 mph.

The US mainland recorded its first death in connection with the hurricane, that of an 85-year-old man in North Carolina who fell off a ladder while preparing his home for the storm. Dorian was also blamed for one death in Puerto Rico.