Officials temporarily suspended aid efforts and closed some small airports in the Bahamas on Saturday as Tropical Storm Humberto threatened to lash the archipelago’s northwest region that was already hit by Hurricane Dorian two weeks ago. (Sept. 14)
Residents, rescue teams and aid workers across the storm-battered northern Bahamas could breathe a sigh of relief Sunday when Tropical Storm Humberto, expected to soon reach hurricane status, steered wide of the beleaguered island nation.
The National Hurricane Center said Humberto was located well north of Great Abaco Island and was moving toward the north-northwest at about 7 mph.
The Florida coast also won an apparent reprieve, with forecasters predicting Humberto will turn sharply to the northeast early this week and well off the U.S. coast. Still, swells generated by Humberto will affect the U.S. coast from central Florida to North Carolina during the next few day with “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the Hurricane Center warned.
“Regardless of the exact track or development, Floridians along the East Coast should be prepared for heavy rain and potential flooding, have supplies ready and follow local media for updates,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Humberto could threaten Bermuda on Wednesday or Thursday, AccuWeather said.
In the Bahamas, Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands are still reeling from Hurricane Dorian. Thousands of homes and businesses were flooded and flattened two weeks ago, when the storm blasted through the region as a Category 5 behemoth blamed for at least 50 deaths.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Great Abaco on Saturday, rallying humanitarian workers and blaming climate change for the severity of storms in recent years.
“I’m horrified by the level of devastation,” he tweeted from the island. “I’ve never seen anything like this. #HurricaneDorian was not category 5, but category hell.”
Some rescue and aid efforts, suspended when Humberto threatened, were back to work Sunday. Tens of thousands of residents remain essentially homeless, more than 1,000 remain missing, and thousands have taken to social media in a frantic attempt to track down loved ones.
Authorities warn the death toll could rise sharply in coming days as recovery teams continue to pick through devastated neighborhoods. Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the searches were a priority and that his government, with the help of international aid teams, was working feverishly to update the status of the missing.
“We will first and foremost put the priority on notifying families and giving them the help they need to grieve,” Minnis said.
Calling Dorian a “historic tragedy,” Minnis designated Wednesday a day of National Day of Prayer and Fasting. Flags will be flown at half-staff on public buildings to mourn those killed in the storm.
“We are a nation in mourning,” Minnis said. “We will need as many spiritual resources as we will need physical resources, to rebuild lives and to recover.”
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