It’s often been said that people are nine meals away from a total collapse of civilized behavior. Obviously, to us Americans, those nine meals equate to a three day time period.
More than a few of the 17,000 people on Great Abaco Island haven’t had food or drinkable water for seven days.
Sadly, but predictably, reports have slowly seeped out from The Bahamas that at least some of the devastated people of Great Abaco have resorted to looting, and in some cases, trying to kill anyone who gets in their way.
It was on Sept. 1 that Hurricane Dorian hammered the multi-island nation of The Bahamas as a Cat 5 hurricane. For at least 48 hours, Dorian essentially stopped all forward movement as it crushed all 776 square miles of Grand Abaco with sustained winds of at least 185 MPH.
Not only has every building on the island sustained at least some damage, the shantytown collection of slapped-together shacks in a waterlogged area known as “The Mudd” has been reduced the collection of hovels to a four foot deep pile of scrap wood and corrugated metal.
Home to at least 3,000 Haitian refugees (no one really knows for sure), the devastation at The Mudd will likely see the Bahamian death toll of officially 30 to skyrocket. As reported by Britain’s The Daily Mail, “hundreds of body bags have been ordered.”
Also reported by The Daily Mail;
The death toll from devastating Hurricane Dorian will be ‘staggering’ with thousands still missing, officials have warned amid reports looters are ‘trying to shoot people’ in the scramble for food and water.
Up to 70,000 are in need of ‘life-saving assistance’ while Great Abaco is said to be virtually uninhabitable, with bodies piled up and witnesses say there is a ‘smell of death’ with corpses floating in the water.
While the official death toll stands at 30, that number is expected to rise and hundreds of body bags have been ordered along with extra freezers.
Damaged houses and debris is seen on devastated Great Abaco Island on Thursday, Hurricane Dorian hit the island chain as a category 5 storm battering them for two days before moving north. A massive international relief effort was ramped up today as survivors revealed horrifying details of the ‘apocalyptic’ aftermath of the 185mph, Category-5 storm.
Addressing fears the death toll from the disaster will climb, Health Minister Duane Sands warned: ‘Let me say that I believe the number will be staggering.’
There is not yet a government evacuation effort but [British] Royal Navy ships and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force have offered a few spaces on some of their ships.
Hundreds of people have turned up at the docks carrying bits of scavenged possessions in duffel bags piled in shopping carts.
‘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 five months old and four, at the port. ‘There’s no food, no water. There are bodies in the water. People are going to start getting sick.
A British Royal Navy ship docked at Abaco and distributed supplies to hurricane survivors. 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 is also giving frequent-flyer points to customers who donate at least $25 to the Red Cross.
Troops from the Rhode Island National Guard will be heading to the Bahamas to help. The Guard will mobilize three C-130 cargo aircraft that will depart from the Quonset Air National Guard Base on Friday, state officials said.
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, which reduced it to 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.
‘People will be out of jobs for months,’ 67-year-old wood carver Gordon Higgs lamented. ‘They’ll be homeless, no food. Nothing.’
‘This is our Katrina moment,’ Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands said Thursday.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Dorian left ‘generational devastation’ and asked for prayers for the thousands of families affected.
The Bahamian government sent hundreds of police and marines into the stricken islands, along with doctors, nurses and other health care workers.
The US Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and relief organizations including the UN and the Red Cross joined the burgeoning effort to rush food and medicine to survivors and lift the most desperate people to safety by helicopter.
Adrian Farrington said he is holding onto hope that his son will be found alive after the five-year-old was swept off a roof by surging floodwaters.
‘I still can see my son getting dragged across the roof reaching up,’ Farrington told CBS News.
‘If he be rescued, praise the Lord. But for the search, what I saw, when I lose him, anything could happen. You had sharks swimming in the water. Anything can happen.’
As it turns out, the American Coast Guard and the British Royal Navy aren’t the only foreign military to be deployed on the rescue mission.
As USNI News reports;
The Navy and Marine Corps are poised to offer disaster relief in the Bahamas if requested, as officials continue to survey destruction left by Hurricane Dorian. As of Thursday afternoon, the Navy had not received a request to provide personnel or equipment to assist recovery efforts in the Bahamas, Navy officials told USNI News.
Amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were already conducting amphibious ready group (ARG)/MEU exercises in the Atlantic before Hurricane Dorian stormed into the region and could if called on to provide drinking water, medical care, search and rescue assistance and other aid.
Bataan, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, has a 600-bed hospital and can purify up to 200,000 gallons of water each day with its onboard distillation plants. The ship’s combination of helicopters, tiltrotor aircraft and surface landing craft can provide a critical transportation capability even when harbors and airports are inoperable because of extensive storm damage. The ship can deliver supplies and personnel to storm-ravaged areas and provide medical evacuations from islands.
Hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) arrived at Trinidad and Tobago earlier this week to conduct a five-day medical mission, according to the Navy. Comfort is mid-way through a five-month deployment to Central and South America.
Two years ago, Comfort played a vital role in providing medical care to Puerto Rico after the island’s medical infrastructure was devastated by Hurricane Maria. During October and part of November 2017, Comfort’s crew treated more than 1,899 patients, performed 200 surgeries, provided 76-thousand liters of oxygen and delivered 10 tons of food and water. The crew also delivered two babies before returning to Norfolk shortly before Thanksgiving.