More than 76,000 people could be in need of food and other aid in the Bahamas after the Caribbean nation was ravaged by Hurricane Dorian, the UN’s World Food Programme said on Thursday, with eight tonnes of supplies ready to arrive.
Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane — the highest on the five-level wind scale — when it hit the northern Bahamas, leaving a trail of destruction and killing at least 20 people.
As an international rescue effort ramped up for thousands of victims of Dorian on the northern Bahamas islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, residents of the Carolinas were preparing for the now Category 2 storm.
‘WFP has purchased 8 tons of ready to eat meals and is arranging their transportation to the Bahamas to be distributed to the affected population,’ said Herve Verhoosel, senior WFP spokesman.
‘More than 76,000 people in the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands may require food and other assistance.’
He said results from an evaluation expected on Saturday would give a clearer picture of the island’s needs. Another 85 tonnes of emergency food should be delivered during the next three months.
WFP is organising an airlift from the UN hub in Panama of storage units, generators, and prefab offices for two logistics hubs to be established on the main islands.
Aerial footage has shown scenes of catastrophic damage in Abaco with hundreds of homes missing roofs, cars submerged or overturned, widespread flooding and boats reduced to matchwood.
The international airport in Freeport, the largest city on Grand Bahama island, was damaged and its runways unusable, complicating relief efforts.
Meanwhile, hurricane Dorian made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday, hitting the beach resort area with powerful winds and battering waves days after reducing parts of the Bahamas to rubble, reports Reuters.
The storm, packing 90-mile-per-hour winds made landfall at Cape Hatteras at about 9:00am EDT (1300 GMT), according to the National Hurricane Centre.
It lashed the Outer Banks with hurricane-force winds as far as 45 miles from the centre of the hurricane and sent tropical storm winds farther than 200 miles (320 km) from its centre, the NHC said.
It has already dumped up to 10 inches of rain along the coast between Charleston, South Carolina, to Wilmington, North Carolina, about 170 miles away, forecasters said.
‘The rain is moving up north,’ said National Weather Service forecaster Alex Lamers early on Friday. ‘Even the Raleigh-Durham area inland will get 3 inches today.’
Dorian is expected to push out to sea later on Friday and bring tropical storm winds to Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, early on Saturday.
But it will likely spare much of the rest of the East Coast the worst of its rain and wind, before likely making landfall in Canada’s Nova Scotia that night, the NHC said.
‘It’s in the process of moving out, going north,’ Lamers said.
The howling west flank of Dorian has soaked the Carolinas since early Thursday, flooding coastal towns, whipping up more than a dozen tornadoes and cutting power to hundreds of thousands of people.
Floodwaters rose to a foot or more in parts of the historic South Carolina port city of Charleston, where more than 7 inches of rain fell in some areas, officials said. Another half-inch or more was expected overnight Friday.
More than 330,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday morning. Power had mostly been restored to thousands of people in Georgia, tracking site poweroutage.us showed.
But as Dorian is expected to pick up speed from its 14 mph crawl on Friday, life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds remain a threat for much of the area and Virginia, the National Hurricane Centre said.
Governors in the region declared states of emergency, shut schools, opened shelters, readied National Guard troops and urged residents to heed warnings, as news media circulated fresh images of the storm’s devastation in the Bahamas.
At least 70,000 Bahamians needed immediate humanitarian relief after Dorian became the most damaging storm ever to hit the island nation.
In the Carolinas alone, more than 900,000 people had been ordered to evacuate their homes. It was unclear how many did so.
In Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks, Mark Jennings decided to ignore the order, lining his garage door with sandbags and boarding up his home with plywood.
The retired firefighter planned to stay put with his wife and two dogs, saying: ‘We are ready to go. If something happens, we can still get out of here.’
Dorian whipped up at least three tornadoes in the region, officials said. One in North Carolina damaged scores of trailers at a campground in Emerald Isle, but no one was injured, the News & Observer said.
Of at least four storm-related deaths reported in the United States, three were in Orange County, Florida, during storm preparations or evacuation, the mayor’s office said.
In North Carolina, an 85-year-old man fell off a ladder while barricading his home for Dorian, the governor said.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Latin America