Bahamas looks like 'massive bomb had exploded with atomic force,' P.M. says as new storm warning is issued

Adriana Navarro

"No living Bahamian has ever seen anything like this in their lifetime," Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said during a national address this week, describing the brutal destruction Hurricane Dorian brought when it unleashed "generational devastation" in the Bahamas.

"Much of Abaco, as we knew it, is decimated and no longer exists," Minnis continued. "Concrete structures were turned to dust as if a massive bomb had exploded with atomic force."

Just after the prime minister had spoken these dire words on Wednesday evening, a new tropical threat emerged and on Thursday officials in the Bahamas issued a tropical storm warning for much of the beleaguered island nation as a system of thunderstorms looked poised to become a tropical depression.

Buildings in Abaco and Grand Bahamas are not just stripped of their roofs, but torn away from their foundations in many cases. Neighborhoods have become fields of debris, and concrete buildings that were thought to have been sturdy were pulverized.

Tereha Davis, 45, eats a meal of rice as she sits among the remains of her shattered home, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in McLean's Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. She and others said they had not seen any government officials and have only received food and water from some nonprofit organizations. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Many people, when they saw their place of shelter buckling under the storm, fled to find a safer place when the eye of Dorian passed over. With each day that search efforts continue, though, concern grows over the number of people who might not have made it to a safe shelter.

The death toll from Dorian stood at 50 as of Wednesday, 42 from Abaco and 8 from Grand Bahama. Though officials haven't updated that figure as of Friday morning, Minnis warned that he expected the number to significantly increase.

After cross-referencing lists of people who evacuated with the registry of missing people, the number of those missing decreased from 2,500 to 1,300 people as of Thursday, according to Reuters.

Those who did survive have been left with fragments of their lives before the storm.

"Quite a number of those who lived through Hurricane Dorian are experiencing nightmares and other trauma," Minnis said. "There is tremendous physical, emotional and psychological trauma. The road to recovery and healing will be long and hard."

Stories of people having to evacuate their children without accompanying them, to a woman in Abaco living in an abandoned school for as long as she is allowed, have circulated.

Minnis announced the number of evacuees in the shelters reached 1,600 people as of Monday.

Ayfon Minus, 8, collects donated food that was brought by helicopter from Freeport to the Hurricane Dorian destroyed village of High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

"But as horrible and vicious as Hurricane Dorian was, the bravery and resilience of the Bahamian people is even more powerful," Minnis said. "The spirit of courage was seen in ordinary citizens who rescued others right after the hurricane, including those who came to the rescue on jet skis."

On Sept. 2 and Sept. 3, a group of jet skiers rescued at least 100 people in Freeport on Grand Bahama, according to CNN.

"We have an indomitable spirit in the Bahamas and we will bounce back from this, scars and all," Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources in the Bahamas Michael Pintard, one of the people rescued by the jet skiing group, told CNN.

Another rescue story surfaced at the Humane Society in Grand Bahama, where a pitbull mix saved two shih tzus from drowning after the workers had done all that they could to save the animals.

A video on the AccuWeather TV Network even led to the confirmation for Roman Sawyer that his mother, Beverly Bethel, had survived the storm. After losing contact with her through the storm and having thought the worst, Sawyer broke down when he saw her on the screen and alive.

Ayfon Minus, 8, collects donated food that was brought by helicopter from Freeport to the Hurricane Dorian destroyed village of High Rock, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

As the Bahamians continue to account for the damage, the recently named Tropical Depression Nine follows on Dorian's heels.

"We are encouraging all residents, visitors and interests across the Bahamas, Florida and Cuba to closely monitor the progression of Tropical Depression Nine," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski cautioned on Thursday.

Previously known as Invest 95L and Potential Tropical Storm Nine, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the disturbance to its current status as a tropical depression at 5 p.m. EDT Friday. Should it become a tropical storm, the system will be named Humberto.

The gathering storm system is forecast to bring tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rainfall to parts of the northwestern Bahamas into Friday night and Saturday and become a tropical storm on Saturday. Storm surge isn't expected from this system.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Northwestern Bahamas excluding Andros Island as of Friday afternoon. As of 5 p.m. EDT, the tropical storm was about 280 miles east-southeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph.

The main concern for the Bahamas would be the rainfall, according to Kottlowski, as the downpours and wind could slow down and hamper the transportation of supplies coming in from other countries by boat or plane.

The second concern is from the trauma Dorian had wrought on the psyche of the people.

"If they hadn't gotten hit by Dorian, this would not be a big deal for them," Kottlowski said. "The fact that just having a storm come in with wind and rain again is going to make it more difficult for people to deal with it.

The greatest chance of heavy rain will be Friday night and into Saturday, according to Kottlowski.

Minnis had not made a statement on the new storm as of Friday afternoon, though he encouraged Bahamians on Wednesday through the rebuilding and caregiving efforts.

"We are a resilient people."