Tuesday 29 September, 2020

Tropical Storm Humberto forms near Bahamas

A tropical depression near the Bahamas has strengthened into Tropical Storm Humberto.

Parts of the northwestern Bahamas that were recently pummeled by Hurricane Dorian are expected to experience tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rain over the weekend, but not significant storm surge.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning that the storm was located about 70 miles (10 kilometers) east of Great Abaco Island and moving northwest at 7 mph (11 kph). It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 kph).

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the northwestern Bahamas, excluding Andros Island.

Forecasters expect the storm to stay offshore of Florida's eastern coast, so a tropical storm watch is no longer in effect for the state

Bahamians look for loved ones as 1,300 missing

Even as more weather systems are headed their way, people in the northern Bahamas scan social media, peer under rubble, or try to follow the smell of death in an attempt to find family and friends - amid alarming reports that 1,300 people remain listed as missing nearly two weeks after Hurricane Dorian hit.


The government has cautioned that the list is preliminary and many could be staying in shelters and just haven't been able to connect with loved ones.

But fears are growing that many died when the Category 5 storm slammed into the archipelago's northern region with winds in excess of 185 mph and severe flooding that toppled concrete walls, cracked trees in half and ripped swings off playgrounds as Dorian battered the area for a day and a half.

"Heartbroken but still life goes on," Phil Thomas Sr. said as he leaned against the frame of his roofless home in the fishing village of McLean's Town and looked into the distance.

The boat captain has not seen his 30-year-old son, his two grandsons or his granddaughter since the storm. They were all staying with his daughter-in-law, who was injured and taken to a hospital in the capital, Nassau, after the U.S. Coast Guard found her — but only her.

He's heard rumours that someone saw a boat belonging to his son, a marine pilot, though the vessel also hasn't been found.

The loss weighs on Thomas, who said he tries to stay busy cleaning up his home so he doesn't think about them.

Meanwhile, a cluster of heavy thunderstorms is heading toward the Bahamas and is expected to further drench the communities bashed by Dorian.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Thursday that the system was expected to become a tropical storm within 36 hours and would hit parts of the northwestern Bahamas with tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rains.

In the Abaco islands, which Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says are mostly decimated, the search for loved ones is even more intense.

At least 42 people died in Abaco and eight in Grand Bahama, and Minnis has warned that number will increase significantly.

He assured Bahamians in a recent televised address that the government was working hard to recover bodies and notify families, adding that officials are providing counselling amid reports of nightmares and psychological trauma.

Others who were reported missing and presumed dead were found in part thanks to the determination of people like Joyce Thomas, who did not stop searching for her brother, Bennett.

She travelled from Nassau to Freeport in Grand Bahama and then drove out to McLean's Town, only to be forced to turn around because the street was still impassable.

She tried again the next day and managed to reach the neighbourhood where they grew up. There, she found only the foundation of his home. Her fear grew as she walked through the neighborhood.

"You know I lose so much of my family members but I'm really thankful for my brother," she said having found him alive.  "That's my one and only you know, so I had to come and make sure that he's okay."

Still, reunions, although few, are happening nearly two weeks after the storm made landfall Sept. 1.

The family of Trevon Laing had thought the 24-year-old man was dead after a police officer told them that two bodies had been found in the community of Gold Rock Creek, including that of a young man. His mother went into mourning for five days.

When his family visited the community to verify what they were told, Laing wasn't around, buttressing their fears that he was dead. When he returned, he said, he found his brother crying on the front porch.

"Getting reunited with them after the hurricane was the biggest part of it for me," he said  "That really filled my heart with joy."

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