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Nations pledge to help the Bahamas amid Dorian destruction

HURRICANE DORIAN: A road is flooded in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas

A NUMBER of nations have pledged to help the Bahamas amid the destruction wrought by Hurricane Dorian.

The storm, which made landfall on the Abaco islands, is currently over Grand Bahama.

With wind gusts of up to 200mph and sea levels rising to up to 23ft above normal levels, Dorian is the most powerful to hit the Bahamas since records began.

So far, five people have been confirmed dead, a figure that is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.

More than 13,000 houses in Grand Bahama and Abaco have been extensively damaged or destroyed. Today wind speeds have lowered to around 130mph and the storm has been reclassified as a Category 3 hurricane.

Speaking yesterday, Hubert Minnis, the prime minister of the Bahamas, said: “We are in the midst of an historic tragedy.”

He added: “The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.”

The main hospital on Grand Bahama has been rendered “unusable” as a result of the extreme weather, health minister Duane Sands said.

In Marsh Harbour, the main hospital had been repurposed as a shelter for 400 people. While the building remains intact, it is lacking food, water, medicine and surgical supplies.

The UN has estimated that more than 60,000 people in both Abaco and Grand Bahama will need food following the hurricane’s destruction.

Country representatives and world leaders have

Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland said: “We want the government and all Bahamians to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them; and that we are working with our partners to make available as swiftly as possible whatever assistance The Bahamas may require at this time of great need and uncertainty.

“It is heartrending to hear of the destruction and disruption this extremely powerful Atlantic hurricane has caused, forcing people out of their homes and wreaking widespread devastation on The Bahamas.

“Memories of similar disastrous impacts in other Commonwealth countries caused by floods in Asia, by cyclones in Africa and the Pacific, and by hurricanes in the Caribbean, are still fresh in my mind. Nations are rebuilding from those climate disasters. We share with the people of The Bahamas deep concern about the impact of Hurricane Dorian on vulnerable communities and for economic resilience. We will carry forward with renewed vigour our Commonwealth advocacy and work in support of small and vulnerable countries facing the serious challenge of climate change – an undoubted cause of the increasing frequency and intensity of these natural disasters.

In Florida, people were ordered to evacuate ahead of Dorian reaching the state.

At least 21 people from Abaco have been airlifted off the island by the US Coast Guard.

Republican senator for Florida Marco Rubio has said the US is on hand to help.

He tweeted: “Speaking to US Coastguard over the last day about the Bahamas.

“US is ready to deploy behind #HurricaneDorian to provide aid and assistance to our neighbors on the islands.

“Forward, upward, onward, together #BahamasStrong.”

Barbados has also committed to helping the Bahamas as soon as possible. The island’s prime minister Mia Amor Mottley said she was “deeply saddened” by the suffering the Bahamian people and has pledged her government’s urgent assistance, saying that personnel and equipment from the Barbados Defence Force and the Barbados Coast Guard are on standby.

The Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has sent a team to the Bahamas to coordinate the Regional Response Mechanism (RRM).

“We were fortunate enough to have been spared the wrath of Dorian, but we are no less touched by what has occurred in The Bahamas than if it had taken place right here in Barbados,” Mottley said.

Like others who have pledged their support, Mottley also addressed the issue of climate change and its disproportionate impact on smaller nations.

“It is now clear that increasingly, all nations in this region are becoming more susceptible to the ravages of hurricanes and other adverse weather conditions, and while we are not the ones creating the conditions for global warming that fuels them, we certainly have no choice but to stand together to help each other when they come our way,” she said.

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