ABACO, Bahamas (AP) — Hundreds of people gathered at the port in Grand Abaco Friday hoping to escape a Bahamian island devastated by Hurricane Dorian, some carrying bits of scavenged possessions in duffel bags piled in shopping carts.
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International aid efforts gained momentum even as emergency crews were still hunting for survivors and the missing five days after Dorian blasted the Bahamas with 185 mph (295 kph) winds. Officials said 30 have been confirmed dead, but the toll is sure to rise.
Some in the crowd lined up behind a yellow cloth tape at the port had placed their names on evacuation lists at shelters and arrived as early as 1 a.m., hoping for transportation to the capital of Nassau.
“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 5 months old and 4. “There’s no food, no water. There are bodies in the water. People are going to start getting sick.”
There were no government-organized evacuations yet, but the Royal Bahamas Defense Force was helping people board a 139-foot (42-meter) ferry that had come to pick up its employees and had room for an additional 160 people.
The crowd waited calmly as marines separated women and children to allow them to board first, followed by the men.
“Our sense is people want to get off Abaco,” said the ship’s commanding officer, Senior Lt. William Sturrup.
A British navy ship moored offshore was sending in aid on a landing craft, including blankets and 500 boxes of ration packs that feed a family of four. In addition, two private yachts had also brought in aid, including pallets of water bottles.
Sturrup said the navy ship would return later with more aid, and that a 210-foot (64-meter) landing craft of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force would come Friday afternoon with supplies and trucks.
Another crowd of a few hundred gathered on Thursday at a small airport, hoping to catch small planes that were picking up the most vulnerable survivors, including the sick and the elderly.
The evacuation was slow and there was frustration for some who said they had nowhere to go after the Category 5 hurricane splintered whole neighborhoods.
“They told us that the babies, the pregnant people and the elderly people were supposed to be first preference,” said Lukya Thompson, a 23-year-old bartender. But many were still waiting, she said.
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.
Bahamian health minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday that the known dead are from Abaco and Grand Bahama islands and include some who died from injuries after being evacuated by air to New Providence island, he said.
Total property losses, not including infrastructure and autos, could reach $7 billion, the firm Karen Clark & Co. estimated.
The hurricane hit Abaco on Sunday and then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.
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.
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 was also giving frequent-flyer points to customers who donate at least $25 to the Red Cross.
Troops from the Rhode Island National Guard were set to fly in with three C-130J cargo aircraft on Friday, state officials said.
And the Netherlands said it would send ships from the Caribbean Dutch territory of Sint Maarten.
Some dazed survivors of the storm on Thursday 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, leaving 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.
“Ain’t nobody come to get them,” said Cardot Ked, a 43-year-old carpenter from Haiti who has lived 25 years in Abaco. “If we could get to the next island, that’s the best thing we can do.”
Associated Press writers Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Marko Alvarez in Freeport, Bahamas; and Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.
For more of AP’s coverage of Hurricane Dorian, go to: https://apnews.com/Hurricanes
This article was written by Michael Weissenstein from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.