SAN JUAN – The Bahamas archipelago has been spared of a new tropical storm that appeared to threaten the island groups which were the most impacted by Hurricane Dorian nearly two weeks ago, as the tiny Caribbean nation continues to recover in the wake of the devastation caused by the hurricane.
Tropical storm Humberto has been slowly moving away from the Bahamas islands towards the north-northwest with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (80.5 kilometers/hour) and is expected to develop into a hurricane by Sunday night or Monday morning, though away from land.
Humberto is also forecast to steer clear of the United States coastline, although it is set to heavily impact maritime transit by causing stormy seas.
Several airports in the Bahamas were shut down on Saturday as Humberto’s arrival loomed, leading to a delay in the arrival of humanitarian aid for thousands of people affected by Dorian.
In the face of the tropical storm alert, food distribution in Grand Bahama was reduced and a spokesperson for the United Nations’ World Food Program said that all commutes to Marsh Harbor in Great Abaco had been suspended.
The Bahamas’ government advised residents to move to shelters, as the aid had been delayed.
Carl Smith, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, urged Great Abaco residents to be patient when it came to aid distribution and said that citizens should comply with law and order.
“We are dealing with a disaster. Unfortunately, patience is running out,” Smith said. “We are begging the public: they will be served. We need to have law and order.”
“We are facilitating getting them to places as best as we can,” he added, in reference to the distribution of aid to Great Abaco islanders affected by the havoc Dorian wreaked after it pounded the Abacos between Sept. 1-2
Some local residents had complained to several local media outlets that they were not able to access aid because they lacked the means to reach the distribution centers.
They said that when they did manage to reach the centers, those who rushed there were the first to obtain aid on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Bahamian authorities estimated that some 10,000 Abacos residents were still in need of water, food and temporary shelter.
The UN, meanwhile, calculated that about 70,000 citizens living in the storm-stricken areas had either lost their homes or suffered serious damages to their residences.
The official toll from Dorian currently stands at 52 deaths and more than 1,300 missing persons.
In addition, the cost of damages caused by the hurricane has been pegged at an estimated $7 billion.
According to NEMA, there were 2,078 people temporarily lodged in shelters on the island of New Providence – where the country’s capital, Nassau, is located – while there are 71 on Grand Bahama and two on Great Abaco.
Around 90 percent of the water supply has been restored in the south of Great Abaco, but the supply only reached 40 percent of households in the northern part of the island.
On the other hand, around half of Grand Bahama households had seen their access to tap water restored.
On Grand Bahama, four ports were functioning at full capacity and four remained closed, while all ports were operating normally on Great Abaco.