Bahamian officials said Wednesday that 2,500 people have been registered as missing in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Dorian but cautioned the full list of missing has not been checked to see if any of those people are in shelters.
“This list has not yet been checked against government records of who are staying in shelters or who have been evacuated,” National Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Carl Smith told a news conference. “The database processing is underway.”
Thousands of people are in shelters on the islands. Officials have confirmed 50 deaths caused by the Sept. 1 storm.
Smith said more than 5,000 people had evacuated to New Providence, the island which contains the capital Nassau, but that they had seen a “significant reduction” in the number of people asking to be evacuated.
As evacuees from the devastated islands of Freeport and Great Abaco have left for New Providence, the Bahamas Gaming Operators Association said Tuesday it had built more than 1,394 square metres of air-conditioned tent housing for over 800 people. Some 295 people were staying in those tents on Wednesday, Bahamian officials said.
More will come, with officials planning to erect two “tent city” relief centres capable of housing around 4,000 people around hard-hit Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, John Michael-Clark, co-chairman of the Bahamas’ disaster relief and reconstruction committee, told reporters this week.
The two centres will provide temporary housing to people who wish to rebuild their homes on the island, he said. Officials estimated that 90 per cent of the homes and buildings in Marsh Harbour were damaged or destroyed by Dorian’s top sustained winds of nearly 300 km/h.
Meanwhile, a White House official said Wednesday that the United States has no plans to invoke temporary protected immigration status for Bahamians currently in the country.
When asked Monday whether U.S. President Donald Trump would consider loosening immigration rules to aid storm-stricken Bahamians, he asserted the Bahamas had “tremendous problems” with allowing “very bad people” into the country, and that he wanted to ensure those people do not make it to the U.S.
“We have to be very careful,” Trump told reporters. “Everybody needs totally proper documentation.”
Administration data shows the Caribbean plays a small role in the narcotics trade. Critics have accused Trump of demonizing Bahamians to stop non-white immigrants from entering the U.S.