SAN JUAN – The death toll from Hurricane Dorian’s slow but devastating rampage through the northern Bahamas early this month has climbed from 50 to 52, according to Saturday’s latest official tally, which said the number of missing still stands at 1,300.
The new figures from Bahamas’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) come as authorities in that Atlantic archipelago are expecting heavy rain this weekend associated with Tropical Storm Humberto.
Shelters are still housing 2,078 people affected by Dorian in New Providence, where the archipelago’s capital, Nassau, is located; 71 in Grand Bahama island and two in the Abaco Islands, NEMA said in a statement.
Those latter two northern areas were hardest hit by Dorian, which made landfall on Sept. 1 over the Abaco Islands as a Category 5 storm packing winds of 298 kilometers (185 miles) per hour before hovering over Grand Bahama island as a major hurricane.
The United Nations’ secretary-general said during a visit to the hurricane-stricken archipelago on Friday that natural disasters are becoming more intense and frequent due to the global climate crisis and urged world leaders to take action to mitigate its effects.
Storms like Dorian represent a “triple punch of injustice,” Antonio Guterres said during a press conference after meeting with Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis in Nassau.
“First, the worst impact is on countries with the lowest greenhouse emissions – The Bahamas are a very good example of that,” Guterres told reporters. “Second, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people in those countries who suffer most, and again, the same has happened with the communities in The Bahamas.”
“And third, repeated storms trap countries in a cycle of disaster and debt,” he added.
Although the total financial cost of Dorian on the Bahamas remains unclear, the UN leader said it would probably be in the billions of dollars.
“The Bahamas cannot be expected to foot this bill alone,” he said. “These new large-scale climate-related disasters require a multilateral response. Climate financing is one element.”
Separately, Minnis said Friday on Twitter that he had spoken by phone with the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles to establish a plan to rebuild the islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The Bahamas is a Commonwealth realm whose head of state is the monarch of the UK, Queen Elizabeth II.
“Minutes ago I spoke with His Royal Highness Prince Charles who expressed how deeply the people of the UK are feeling for Bahamians at this time. We spoke about ways to rebuild better with resilience and long term reconstruction. Thank you for your unwavering support,” Minnis wrote.
The UN says the homes of 70,000 people in the Bahamas were either completely destroyed or seriously damaged by Dorian.
The storm-weary islands now are facing more rain this weekend, with T.S. Humberto expected to bring between 50-100 millimeters (2-4 inches) of rain to the Bahamas through Sunday, with isolated maximum amounts of up to 152 mm.
The center of Humberto, which was passing just east of Great Abaco Island on Saturday morning, is not expected to product significant storm surge in the northwestern Bahamas, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.