It would take years for the Bahamas which was ravaged by hurricane Dorian to rebuild.
Bahamas’ Health Minister Dr Duane Sands gave the prognosis yesterday as he spoke on the CNC3 Morning Brew about the country’s rising death toll and destruction to buildings and homes following last week’s deadly hurricane.
Sands said so far 45 bodies have been recovered and stored in a morgue, while thousands have been reported missing.
In Abaco, Grand Bahama and Freeport which were hardest hit, Sands said the “homelessness, grief and suffering have been tremendous.”
Having visited these affected areas, Sands said the sight of the widespread ruins and smell of dead bodies have been “ominous” and gave a feeling of “despair.”
Most of the vehicles that provided public transportation, he said were either flooded out or capsized, leaving them unusable and making it difficult to get relief supplies to those severely affected.
Amidst the darkness, the spirit of the people of the Bahamas he said had been lifted by the outpouring of worldwide support.
Over the weekend, he said relief and rescue missions were being carried out.
But Sands said: “The Prime Minister, Cabinet and myself expect a significant elevation in deaths.”
Sands said due to the topography of the land and collapsed buildings, many persons are still unaccounted for.
He said there were pockets of people who were yet to receive help with relief supplies.
“There are neighbourhoods not serviced and there are people who have not been touched. Our priority is to reach them.”
At the hospitals which have not been operating fully, scores of Bahamians were being treated for head and body injuries while others had to amputate their limbs.
Sands said due to severe flooding they have been working aggressively to prevent cholera by providing citizens with water treatment kits.
He said the Government has been meeting with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) several times a day to “interface with what is happening on the streets.”
Sands admitted that some rescue workers were unable to cope with the psychological impact faced on the ground.
“They became victims as well and that is a major gap we are trying to deal with.”
He said counselling would be needed for families who lost their loved ones and those suffering from psychological trauma.
Asked when the Government can expect the country to return to normalcy, Sands took a deep breath and then responded:
“I don’t know what normal will be ever again. It will certainly take years for the structures that were destroyed to fix. We have to lift the resolve of the people,” Sands said.
Meanwhile, eight Trinidadians—all men who were caught in the hurricane after going to the Bahamas to conduct business said they were safe and well taken care of in Grand Bahama.
The men are currently staying in a hotel that has no lights and running water after its ground floor had been flooded out. They have since moved to higher ground in the hotel.
One of the men from South Trinidad who spoke on behalf of the group, said they were provided with relief supplies from the Bahamian business people they interacted with.
The man who did not want his identity revealed said: “We are safe...we did not face any perilous situation. Thank God.”
He said: “We have some business to finalise and by Wednesday we should get everything on stream to come home. By the end of this week, the airport should be reopened. If that fails we would try to go to Nassau and then to the US or wherever.”
If the situation gets worst, he said they would contact the Trinidad Consulate in the Bahamas for help.