More than 70,000 people are in need of “life-saving assistance” after Hurricane Dorian ripped through the Bahamas leaving areas demolished and some considered to be uninhabitable, the United Nations estimates, Reuters reports.
Since the hurricane made landfall on Sunday (Sept. 1) and held strong for approximately 40 hours, the Bahamas have been in a state of recovery with international relief efforts underway.
But with the death toll currently at 30 and expected to climb to “staggering” numbers, according to the Health Minister Duane Sands, survivors are desperate for help, reports Reuters.
“I have never lived through anything like this and I don’t want to live through anything like this again,” Sands told the Nassau Guardian radio, Reuters reports.
“Everything is gone, people are starting to panic,” Alicia Cooke tearfully told reporters, according to the Daily Mail. “Pillaging, looting, trying to shoot people for food and water. It’s just no way everyone’s going to get out.”
The Mudd, a shantytown built by thousands of Haitian migrants over decades near Marsh Harbour on the Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, is now shredded wreckage “with bodies believed to be still below the ruins, based on the smell coming from the debris,” according to a Reuters photographer, who also reported widespread looting in the area.
Residents were seen breaking into liquor stores and supermarkets and leaving with bags full of goods.
Local militias have formed in response to putting an end to widespread looting.
All 30 confirmed death thus far are from the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands where the storm hit hardest, as well as some who died from injuries after being flown to New Providence island, Sands told the Associated Press, reports the Daily Mail.
“Ain’t nobody come to get them,” Cardot Ked, a 43-year-old carpenter from Haiti who has lived in Abaco for 25 years, said, referring to at least nine bodies people have reported seeing in the five-foot deep debris that is now The Mudd.
“If we could get to the next island, that’s the best thing we can do,” he added.
International relief efforts are underway as total property loss, not including infrastructure and autos, could reach $7 billion, the firm Karen Clark & Co. estimated, reports The Daily Mail.
The aide is coming from all sides, from both big and small relief organizations as well as influencers and celebrities.
“We got a kitchen set up and ready to respond and started delivering meals for folks in clinics and shelters around the island right away,” the executive director, Nate Mook, told NBC News. “But the logistics are really unlike anything we’ve experienced before.”
“People will be out of jobs for months,” Gordon Higgs, a 67-year-old woodcarver, said. “They’ll be homeless, no food. Nothing.”
“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told NBC News. “It is going to require a massive coordinated effort to rebuild.”
Photo: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images