Sept. 8 (UPI) — The death toll from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas rose to 44 on Sunday, as government emergency medical teams arrived on the islands one week after the storm.
Another death was added to the tally of those killed in the wake of the Category 5 storm’s impact on the islands, but experts expect the number to grow exponentially as hundreds remain missing.
Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands said that two emergency medical teams had begun providing aid in Abaco while three others would begin services in Grand Bahama later Sunday and Monday.
“The Ministry of Health appreciates the support received by all Emergency Medical Teams and looks forward to the results their contributions will make on the populations most affected by Hurricane Dorian,” Sands said.
About 2,500 people have been evacuated in Abaco, and the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency called on residents to open up their homes to provide shelter to evacuees.
“NEMA is in communication with its local and international partners to implement mass sheltering options,” the agency said. “We are finalizing locations that are adequate for this purpose. We expect to use a number of different types of shelters, including tents, container homes and possibly accommodation barges.”
The United Nations estimated that nearly 70,000 people have been left homeless following the storm that mainly affected the northern islands of the Bahamas, which has a population of 370,000. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, was largely unaffected.
“The physical destruction is massive,” said Rein Paulsen, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean, adding that there is an “urgent need” for critical life-saving supplies such as food, water, hygiene items.
The Coast Guard reported rescuing about 290 people, as helicopters have been conducting search and rescue missions out of Andros Island and Coast Guard cutters have been assisting NEMA.
On Friday, Grand Celebration cruise ship docked in Freeport and delivered essentials after a 90-mile overnight trip. It returned to the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach on Saturday morning with around 1,150 evacuees. Other cruises ships are sending food, water and supplies to the Bahamas.
After slowly passing through the Bahamas and losing wind speed, Dorian made a northerly turn Tuesday and moved up the Atlantic Coast of the United States — from Florida to Maine — and eventually Canada. It made landfall on Cape Hatteras in North Carolina on Friday as a Category 1 storm, dumping several inches of rain and causing power outages of several hundreds thousands in the Carolinas. On Saturday night, it landed again in Nova Scotia, Canada, as a post-tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 100 mph with the strength of a Category 2 hurricane.
Power has been restored to most residents Carolinas but nearly 300,000 customers were without power Sunday afternoon along Canada’s Maritime Province, according to Nova Scotia Power.