Desperation mounts Bahamas as shelters turn survivors away
People gather at the port for aid sent by family members and friends in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas [Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo]
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 seven-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 continued to cry 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 on which 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.”