Hope Town, Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
US Coast Guard picking up critically injured in Abaco
By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE US Coast Guard started airlifting people in need of urgent medical care out of Abaco yesterday.
In a statement, officials from the US Embassy said the US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue operation in Abaco after Hurricane Dorian tore through the island as a Category 5 storm.
“The US Mission to the Bahamas is assisting victims of Hurricane Dorian in Abaco, in the Bahamas,” the statement said. “US Coast Guard helicopters are evacuating injured persons from the Marsh Harbour clinic to Nassau for urgent care. As of 4.30 pm on September 2, these helicopters have airlifted 12 persons out of Abaco.
“The US government is also working with Bahamian counterparts to begin coordinating broader relief efforts. The US government will be providing overflight support to collect imagery of critical infrastructure to provide to the Bahamian government to assist in its response efforts. Relief agencies will move quickly to assess the affected areas for humanitarian needs as soon as the weather permits.”
As rescue efforts continue, many Abaco residents who are holed up in hurricane shelters are worried about family members they have not been able to contact. That worry is compounded by the fact that many on the island have lost their homes and possessions.
A Dundas Town resident, who is staying in the Marsh Harbour clinic with about 300 other people, told this newspaper: “They are looking for family members, but don’t know where they are. People are also concerned about where they’ll stay after the storm passes.
“Many of the shelters got ruined so people had to choose between the government complex or the clinic. There are about 300 people here and about 25 people to a room.”
Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield told ZNS that damage has been confirmed in Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town, and Murphy Town.
He said: “We are uncertain of what’s going on in Treasure Cay at the moment. We have been informed that Cooper’s Town was holding quite well. That’s all that we know at the moment. As soon as the wind subsides a bit more, the wind and the rain, we will go out and have a look.”
The minister said he received reports of bodies being seen but said he couldn’t confirm this until emergency crews did their assessment. However last night, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis confirmed five fatalities in Abaco.
“We want to say to the citizens here in Abaco that are in the impacted areas, it is not safe to go outdoors,” Mr Henfield said. “Power lines are down, telephones are down, trees are across the streets. It is very dangerous to be outdoors if you don’t have to be outdoors.”
He added: “As soon as the weather permits our first responders will go to those areas where we had reports from individuals who were in distress. We have already organised our parties to move as soon as it is safe for them to do so. We will report back to country we are holding strong and steady here in the government complex which we turned into somewhat of a makeshift shelter.”
Mr Henfield said many structures in Abaco were compromised. When Dorian’s eye passed over the island, scores of people used it as an opportunity to escape unsafe structures and head to the island’s government complex.
Mr Henfield, speaking from the complex, said: “When we were in the eye, people were able to come to the shelter and find sanctuary and safety. People seem to be coming from all four angles towards this place.
“We also have people sheltered in the clinic; Marsh Harbour public clinic is packed to capacity as I understand it. Some injuries have been reported and so we are holding strong. We ask you to continue to pray for us.”