LIVE COVERAGE OF THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE DORIAN CONTINUES HERE
• On Thursday morning we’ll bring you the latest news on Hurricane Dorian and its impact on Abaco and Grand Bahama.
11.55pm UPDATE: From the Associated Press: With a now-distant Dorian pushing its way up the Southeastern U.S. coast, menacing Georgia and the Carolinas, many people living in the Bahamas were in shock as they slowly came out of shelters and checked on their homes.
In one community, George Bolter stood in the bright sunshine and surveyed the ruins of what was once his home. He picked at the debris, trying to find something, anything, salvageable. A couple of walls were the only thing left.
"I have lost everything," he said. "I have lost all my baby's clothes, my son's clothes. We have nowhere to stay, nowhere to live. Everything is gone."
10pm UPDATE: From tonight's press conference with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis:
• The Prime Minister said there are 20 confirmed deaths after Hurricane Dorian.
• He had returned from an air assessment flight over Grand Bahama on a US Coast Guard helicopter.
• Much of Grand Bahama was previously underwater but is now cleared.
• There are homes, businesses and infrastructure which is badly damaged and there is a significant number of people in shelters.
• In eastern Grand Bahama and Sweetings Cay there is quite a bit of damage to homes but, significantly, homes on stilts were not damaged.
• Flooding has receded in Freeport, which has infrastructurally done well – most homes in Grand Bahama had minimal damage.
• In reference to stories of looting and disturbances, the Prime Minister said any looters will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
• Bahamians are advised to get their information from reputable sources.
• Dr Minnis spoke today with US President Donald Trump – who pledged assistance to the Bahamas and offered his condolences to the Prime Minister and his family over the death of his brother.
• Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also offered his sympathy and support.
7.40pm UPDATE: The World Central Kitchen team led by chef José Andrés is already delivering meals to people on Abaco. The team sent thousands of meals to Abaco today via helicopter, with more on the way, and were hoping to land and assess the situation in Freeport today. Mr Andrés posted pictures to Twitter of the team loading up a helicopter, saying "Getting food loaded up earlier... Helicopter just a start until we get our @WCKitchen kitchens cooking on Abaco and Grand Bahama! More soon! #ChefsForBahamas"
6.10pm UPDATE: Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands has confirmed that the death toll from Hurricane Dorian now stands at 20 – as for 6pm. There were 17 deaths in Abaco and three in Grand Bahama.
5.15pm UPDATE: Some information from the Associated Press about those awaiting help in the Abacos: A group of Bahamians on hurricane-ravaged Great Abaco island are awaiting help, even as cars go past and helicopters fly overhead.
Among those hoping for relief assistance is 89-year-old Sylvia Cottis, who uses a wheelchair and has an infected gash on her right knee and a leg cut by bits of glass when a window shattered during Dorian's rampage. Her caregiver, Kathryn Cartwright, 58, says of her elderly charge: "I can't leave her here too long." So far, the only help they had received was from neighbors helping clear debris.
Others are in better condition. Kevie Thomas, who lives in the house beside Cottis, says she and some friends are drinking rainwater and eating small amounts of food to make supplies last. She says the hurricane was horrendous, but adds, "If you're alive, to me that's important. How can you be upset?"
4pm UPDATE: The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, His Excellency Huang Qinguo, on behalf of his country, presented Captain Stephen Russell, Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) with $20,000 in goods for the victims of Hurricane Dorian at NEMA’s Headquarters today. Captain Russell expressed thanks for the “timely contribution” and said that the goods will be taken by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to Grand Bahama and Abaco. The Ambassador also pledged that the Republic will be donating more goods in the future. The goods include food supplies as well as baby and hygiene products. (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)
3.25pm UPDATE: US President Donald Trump suggested he may visit The Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian - and promised aid. Following a briefing on the impact of Hurricane Dorian, Mr Trump was asked if he planned to visit The Bahamas. He said: "I guess you would call it a British protectorate, but I will do a lot. We're waiting for a call - they're having a lot of trouble with the telephones over there as you can imagine - from the Prime Minister and we're helping a lot. The Admiral just said we're sending a lot of resources over there to help people on a humanitarian basis. I would do that if we think it's appropriate, I would stop there, yes."
3.15pm UPDATE: US Senator Marco Rubio tweeted this afternoon: “Florida has deep ties to The Bahamas. Many Floridians have family living there. Today I will be asking the Trump Administration to consider suspending certain visa requirements for citizens of The Bahamas displaced by Hurricane Dorian & with close relatives in the U.S.”
• And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter: “I just spoke with Prime Minister Minnis about the devastation in the Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian. Canada stands ready to help the Bahamian people and communities affected by this disaster and has pledged $500,000 in initial emergency assistance.”
2.35pm UPDATE: The Royal Bank of Canada has announced an immediate donation to help support recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas. “While we are still assessing the overall damage and impact of Hurricane Dorian, RBC is making an immediate donation of $75,000 USD to help kick-start local recovery and relief efforts on Abaco and Grand Bahama,” said LaSonya Missick, Managing Director and Head of Personal Banking for RBC in The Bahamas. “These funds will go towards the Bahamas Red Cross Society and Trans-Island Recovery. Further corporate support from the bank may follow as we get a better understanding of the scale and immediate local requirements.”
Preparing to send supplies to Marsh Harbour
2.25pm UPDATE: Rotary Clubs of the Bahamas in partnership with the other civic organisations including Lend a Hand Bahamas has been delivering relief items directly to New Providence Community Church and the other drop off spots. The first set of boats with relief supplies left before first light. Two boats left for Marsh Harbour and a team on the ground there is helping to clear the Government Dock and awaiting their arrival this afternoon. There is now a dedicated drop off spot for Rotary donations. They can now be delivered to Caribbean Landscape Warehouse at the Airport Industrial Park. Drop offs are between the hours of 7:30am and 4:30pm.
2.15pm UPDATE: A Royal Navy vessel has delivered its first batch of aid to residents of Great Abaco.
The RFA Mounts Bay, a Landing Ship Dock, has provided more than 1,200 cases of water, 1,300 food ration packs and 500 shelter kits.
A rigid-hulled inflatable boat was deployed this afternoon with a relief team on board to join up with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to unload aid for those who have been worst hit by the category five storm.
The UK's Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: "The highly skilled crew and specialist equipment of RFA Mounts Bay have been on call since June to support our overseas territories and friends in the hurricane season.
"Its Wildcat helicopter has begun conducting reconnaissance flights of The Bahamas to help assess the damage and the crew have begun distributing UK aid. My thoughts remain with those affected and our world-class military will continue to assist the Bahamas Government to offer relief and aid to those who need it most."
UK International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: "The images of devastation and destruction across The Bahamas are truly shocking. The clock is now ticking to get help to those in need, and I'm pleased that Mounts Bay has begun to deliver life-saving relief items to those in desperate need."
The commanding officer of RFA Mounts Bay, Captain Rob Anders, said: "RFA Mounts Bay has been working alongside the Bahamian National Emergency and Management Agency and US Coastguard personnel, using our Wildcat helicopter to conduct initial assessments on Abaco Island and we have landed reconnaissance troops ashore.
"I am pleased to be able to use our people and equipment to send water and food ashore to provide aid to the Bahamian people."
1.30pm UPDATE: Photos showing the damage in West End, Grand Bahama today.
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames
12.30pm UPDATE: It’s been confirmed that Cecil Bosfield, the brother of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, has died. The Free National Movement has released the following statement: “The Free National Movement, its Executive Officers, Women’s Association, Torchbearers, MCMs and Members extend our condolences to our Leader and Prime Minister The Most Hon Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, Cyril ‘Boxer’ Minnis, Alberta Hall and their family on the passing of their brother Cecil Bosfield.
“We are aware of the burden you are now carrying from the devastation by Hurricane Dorian and now the loss of your brother.
“Please note that our Father God has promised that he would not put more on you than you can handle.
“May his soul rest in peace.”
12.20pm UPDATE: From the Royal Navy on Twitter: The Royal Navy Wildcat has been conducting further reconnaissance flights over the Bahamas to assess damage and provide important intelligence to the Bahamian government and the team of Department for International Development experts who have deployed to the region. First boats are away to Marsh Harbour
11.10am UPDATE: From the US Embassy in Nassau – “As of 8:00 pm on September 3, US Coast Guard and US Customs and Border Protection have successfully airlifted 61 people from the Northern Bahamas to Nassau over two days, including three people from Freeport. People in Abaco and Freeport have welcomed them. Spread the word!
“Help relief efforts by only sharing information from trusted sources. Please share: US Coast Guard continues search + rescue in Northern Bahamas w/support from US Customs and Boder Protection. They have been welcomed by people who need help. There have been no reports of violence against USCG or CBP after Dorian.”
10.30am UPDATE: Health Minister Duane Sands said the government was airlifting 25 doctors, nurses and other health workers to Abaco and hoped to bring in mental health workers soon. "The situation is under control in Abaco," he said. "In Grand Bahama, today will tell the magnitude of the problem."
Wading through flood waters
9.30am UPDATE: An urgent appeal from the RAND MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: “The following Post Hurricane Rostered Staff members are asked to report to the foyer of the Rand immediately. All doctors, nurses, A&E Clerks, Administrative Officers, Security, Housekeeping and contracted Housekeeping Services - Town & Country. All other staff on the Post Hurricane Roster are to remain on high alert for further messages.”
FROM TODAY’S PRINT EDITION:
• PM cautions nation to expect more deaths
• Dramatic video shows family abandoning home
• Boy’s last words: ‘Grammy, I love you’
• 'Total devastation' in Abaco
9.15am UPDATE: Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis said rescue crews are preparing to go into the island's eastern region for the first time since Hurricane Dorian hit.
He says he fears casualties in that area and said there are a lot of medical needs overall on the island. Lewis was driving and said he observed only one gas station open with a line of about half a mile forming.
He said the government was now pulling teams together to receive goods from abroad and was organizing distribution centres as teams began to launch search-and-rescue missions now that the weather has cleared.
At least seven deaths have been reported in the Bahamas from Dorian, with the full scope of the disaster still unknown.
• Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said more than 13,000 houses, or about 45% of the homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco, were believed to be severely damaged or destroyed. U.N. officials said more than 60,000 people on the hard-hit islands will need food, and the Red Cross said some 62,000 will need clean drinking water.
"What we are hearing lends credence to the fact that this has been a catastrophic storm and a catastrophic impact," Cochrane said.
Lawson Bates, a staffer for Arkansas-based MedicCorps, flew over Abaco and said: "It looks completely flattened. There's boats way inland that are flipped over. It's total devastation."
The Red Cross authorised $500,000 for the first wave of disaster relief, Cochrane said. U.N. humanitarian teams stood ready to go into the stricken areas to help assess damage and the country's needs, U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said. The U.S. government also sent a disaster response team.