Cleanup resumes in Bahamas as Humberto swirls away

Destroyed boats are pushed up against the pier in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in Treasure Cay on Abaco island, Bahamas. (File/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)
Updated 15 September 2019

Cleanup resumes in Bahamas as Humberto swirls away

  • The death toll from the hurricane stands at 50 and the number of missing at an alarming 1,300 people
  • Late Saturday night the storm was located about 137 km north of Great Abaco Island

MCLEAN’S TOWN, Bahamas: Jeffrey Roberts lifted a mustard-yellow curtain from the ground as he looked for passports and other documents at the site where his family’s home once stood in Grand Bahama.
He then moved the cloth aside, picked up a pair of old, rusty pliers, and continued his search.
“We got to take what God gives us,” Roberts said, in reference to Tropical Storm Humberto, which narrowly missed the island over the weekend as it continued on its northward trajectory well offshore of Florida’s east coast.
By late Saturday night, the US National Hurricane Center said the storm was located about 85 miles (137 kilometers) north of Great Abaco Island and was moving 6 mph (9 kph) north-northwest with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (97 kph). 
The storm briefly shuttered a couple of small airports, sent people in damaged homes to seek shelter and threatened to interrupt the distribution of sorely needed supplies including food and water.
As the storm barely passed the northern Bahamas, however, Roberts and others were already returning to the task at hand: Resuming their cleanup and recovery efforts in communities devastated by Hurricane Dorian two weeks ago.
On Saturday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres visited the island of Great Abaco to support humanitarian efforts in the wake of the storm that left thousands in need of food, water and shelter.
“Hurricane Dorian has been classified as Category 5. I think it’s Category Hell,” said the secretary-general, adding he was horrified by the “level of systematic devastation.”
The death toll from the hurricane stands at 50 and the number of missing at an alarming 1,300 people, although officials caution the list is preliminary and many people could just be unable to connect with loved ones.
Meanwhile, detritus was piled high as Bahamians attempted to continue salvaging what was left behind.
On Saturday, Patrice Higgs stood barefoot in her backyard with grey mud caked on her feet. She stared listlessly at the horizon as she occasionally pointed at some of her belongings that remained tangled in the debris and out of reach, including a cream-colored loveseat.?
She confided that she lost five relatives to Dorian.
“My sister, my niece, my nephew, my aunty and my cousin,” she said, as dark clouds threatening rain still hung overhead.
The couple then took a break and sat outside as they watched a neighbor, Cecil Leathen, pry his boat out of fallen trees with the help of a backhoe operated by yet another neighbor.
Friends nestled a soggy couch cushion between the backhoe and the boat’s motor to protect it as they successfully pushed it onto a trailer.
Then, Leathen raised his right fist into the air in celebration.
“It takes some time,” he said. “But we’ll get it back together.”


Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

Updated 17 min 13 sec ago

Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

  • Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos
  • Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015

ATHENS: Authorities in Greece moved more asylum-seekers to the mainland on Tuesday as part of a strategy to reduce the refugee population on outlying islands after an increase in arrivals in recent months.

Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos, officials said. Earlier, 120 people arrived from Lesbos.

Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015, when more than a million crossed into Europe, many of them via Greece.

The islands, which are closest to Turkey, have been struggling under the influx, with some 33,700 refugees and migrants in overcrowded camps, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent in a camp on Lesbos, while another fire in a severely overcrowded camp in Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

“Our focus was mainly on Samos because we want things there to calm down,” migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis told Reuters.

More than 12,000 people arrived in Greece in September, the highest level in the three-and-a-half years since the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to seal the Aegean corridor to Europe.

Logothetis said up to 300 more people would be leaving Samos this week, and up to 2,000 from all outlying islands next week. Greece aims to move up to 20,000 off the islands by the end of the year, he said.

Athens has announced a stricter migration policy to deal with the crisis, including plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year.