One week after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, residents are still coping with the “catastrophic” damage, with more than 70,000 people estimated to have been left without food and shelter.
Support from the international community have already reached, but despite relief efforts, people were still scrambling for shelter, with many evacuees still struggling to find their loved ones.
On Sunday, the government said that at least 44 people died in the devastating storm, but numbers are expected to rise.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called the loss of life “catastrophic and devastating”, while Health Minister Duane Sands said the final death toll “will be staggering”.
“I lost my husband because he decided to stay back home,” Margarette Lain, a hurricane survivor in Nassau told Al Jazeera.
“From what I’ve seen and heard everything is like completely gone, so it’s really hard because being there all your life, you don’t know any place else but home,” she added.
The Bahamian government says that as many as 3,500 evacuees have arrived in the capital Nassau, most of the displaced are from the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, the areas worst affected by the Hurricane.
“I really thank God for life right now, I thank God for the US coastguard and everybody who participated, you guys, you know bringing us food and clothes and water and stuff, ” Antoine Marrison, a hurricane survivor, told Al Jazeera.
Lifesaving UNICEF supplies will help provide access to safe water for over 9,500 children and families left reeling by #HurricaneDorian.
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) September 8, 2019
‘We didn’t expect it’
Relief workers have started setting up tents, ahead of the arrival of more evacuees, but officials are concerned that Nassau may not be prepared for the long-term care of the thousands whose communities have been destroyed.
“I think perhaps Dorian was our Katrina, I know the people of New Orleans were totally unprepared for Katrina and we didn’t expect it,” Chanelle Ferguson, a member of the Bahamian Parliament, told Al Jazeera.
“We were prepared in some ways but not for the magnitude, and so when these people come they’re a bit traumatised, but what we try to do is make life as normal as possible,” she added.
Dorian initially struck as a Category 5 hurricane, but it diminished into a strong post-tropical cyclone. On Saturday it hit Nova Scotia in Canada, leaving more than 370,000 people without power.
On Sunday, The US National Hurricane Center said Dorian was centred about 600km north of Cape Race, Newfoundland.
Hurricane Dorian was one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history. The destruction it left behind, is like nothing residents of the Bahamas have experienced before.