Still reeling from Dorian, Bahamas hit by tropical storm
FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) — Tropical Storm Humberto moved away from the Bahamas on Saturday after dumping rain on parts of the archipelago’s northwest region that were already hammered by Hurricane Dorian two weeks ago.
Humberto had lashed the islands as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres visited the Bahamas to support humanitarian efforts in the wake of Dorian, which hit as a Category 5 storm that left thousands in need of food, water and shelter. The list of missing stands at an alarming 1,300 people and the death toll at 50. But officials caution the list is preliminary and many people could just be unable to connect with loved ones.
Humberto’s rains, which fell on Abaco Island, threatened to exacerbate the nation’s problems, but conditions appeared to normalize Saturday afternoon.
At 5 p.m. EDT, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was located about 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Great Abaco Island and was moving 7 mph (11 kph) north-northwest with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph). The Bahamian government discontinued a tropical storm warning.
Weather forecasters say Humberto will likely become a hurricane by Sunday night as it moves away from the Bahamas and the U.S. coast, but won’t threaten land by the time it intensifies to that strength. Its swells could still affect the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina later this weekend and early next week.
Under a bright sun in the Grand Bahama, 40-year-old maintenance man Dexter Wilson was helping a friend put a blue tarp on a damaged roof. He said he was worried about his brother in Abaco given the tropical storm.
“He’s still there. I don’t know why,” he said.
The hurricane center said most of Humberto’s heavy squalls were occurring north and east of the center of the storm, which passed just east of Abaco. However, government officials in the Bahamas took no chances and urged people in damaged homes to seek shelter as they announced that aid efforts would be temporarily affected.
“The weather system will slow down logistics,” said Carl Smith, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency.
The distribution of meals in Grand Bahama was reduced ahead of the storm, and a spokesman for the United Nations World Food Program said all flights into its logistics hub in Marsh Harbor in Abaco were suspended.
Later Saturday, WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said the agency had resumed activities in Marsh Harbor.
“Our team is back at work to support the population and relief organizations,” Verhoosel said in a statement.
Dave McGregor, president and COO of the Grand Bahama Power Company, said crews would resume restoring power as soon as possible.
“We are back in storm preparation mode again, unfortunately,” he said.
Guterres, who was in Abaco on Saturday, said he was “horrified” by the level of “systematic devastation.”
“Hurricane Dorian has been classified as Category 5. I think it’s Category Hell,” the U.N. secretary-general said after his visit.
He said storms powered by climate change had grown more intense, and he implored the international community to learn from the example of Abaco and Grand Bahama and provide support.
“We have always had many hurricanes, but now they are more intense, and they are more frequent,” he said.