NASSAU (Reuters) – A storm system, now called Humberto, is threatening the Bahamas with more heavy downpours and strong winds. It may develop into hurricane and further hampered the search for 1,300 people missing in the wake of the worst hurricane in the nation’s history and a massive humanitarian operation to help survivors.
Humberto has become a tropical storm, could drop up to 6 inches of rain through Sunday in some areas of the islands inundated nearly two weeks ago by Hurricane Dorian, forecasters said.
Winds were expected to reach 30 mph (48 km) in the northern Bahamas, where the powerful and slow-moving Dorian flattened thousands of structures and left 70,000 people needing shelter, food and water and medical assistance.
Here is the official US Forecast:
322 WTNT24 KNHC 140841 TCMAT4 TROPICAL STORM HUMBERTO FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 7 NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL092019 0900 UTC SAT SEP 14 2019 CHANGES IN WATCHES AND WARNINGS WITH THIS ADVISORY... NONE. SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT... A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR... * NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS EXCLUDING ANDROS ISLAND A TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN 36 HOURS. INTERESTS ALONG THE EAST COAST OF FLORIDA SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM. TROPICAL STORM CENTER LOCATED NEAR 26.3N 76.0W AT 14/0900Z POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 30 NM PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE NORTHWEST OR 315 DEGREES AT 6 KT ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 1007 MB MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 35 KT WITH GUSTS TO 45 KT. 34 KT....... 80NE 60SE 0SW 80NW. WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT. REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 26.3N 76.0W AT 14/0900Z AT 14/0600Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 25.9N 75.7W FORECAST VALID 14/1800Z 26.9N 76.9W MAX WIND 40 KT...GUSTS 50 KT. 34 KT... 80NE 60SE 0SW 80NW. FORECAST VALID 15/0600Z 28.0N 77.7W MAX WIND 45 KT...GUSTS 55 KT. 34 KT... 90NE 60SE 0SW 50NW. FORECAST VALID 15/1800Z 29.0N 77.9W MAX WIND 55 KT...GUSTS 65 KT. 50 KT... 30NE 30SE 0SW 30NW. 34 KT... 90NE 70SE 30SW 50NW. FORECAST VALID 16/0600Z 29.8N 77.4W MAX WIND 65 KT...GUSTS 80 KT. 64 KT... 20NE 20SE 0SW 0NW. 50 KT... 40NE 40SE 20SW 40NW. 34 KT... 90NE 90SE 60SW 70NW. FORECAST VALID 17/0600Z 30.8N 74.7W MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT. 50 KT... 40NE 50SE 40SW 30NW. 34 KT...100NE 110SE 80SW 70NW. EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 150 NM ON DAY 4 AND 175 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 15 KT EACH DAY OUTLOOK VALID 18/0600Z 31.5N 71.0W MAX WIND 80 KT...GUSTS 100 KT. OUTLOOK VALID 19/0600Z 33.0N 66.0W MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT. REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 26.3N 76.0W INTERMEDIATE PUBLIC ADVISORY...WTNT34 KNHC/MIATCPAT4...AT 14/1200Z NEXT ADVISORY AT 14/1500Z $$ FORECASTER BEVEN
The storm could frustrate relief efforts by delaying the movement of the “substantial amount” of food and water already on the ground, said Carl Smith, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency during a news conference.
“I hope it does not disrupt it. We have taken precautionary measures to address the potential impact that we may encounter,” Smith said.
People whose homes were damaged or destroyed were advised to move to shelters due to the impending rains, he said.
By midday on Friday, the tropical disturbance was 280 miles (450 km) east-southeast of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, travelling at 1 mile per hour northwest, the NHC said.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for most of the Northwestern Bahamas, including Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama Island, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Those islands were ravaged when Dorian ripped through the archipelago as a Category 5 storm.
“Tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and high surf are expected” in the Bahamas, said Dennis Feltgen, the centre’s spokesman. “Wet and windy, which is going to make the recovery over the northwest Bahamas that much more difficult.”
World Central Kitchen, a charity that has served some 200,000 prepared meals in the Bahamas since Dorian hit, said it was sending ingredients to Abaco ahead of the storm in case helicopters were unable to deliver ready-cooked food into the affected areas on Friday and Saturday.
“Big storm is coming and we maybe can’t fly,” celebrity chef Jose Andres, who founded the organisation in 2010, wrote in an Instagram post earlier this week.
The Canadian government said it might consider recalling its Canadian Armed Forces crew deployed for humanitarian relief if the impending storm worsened.
“The safety of our aircrew and aircraft is always a priority,” said spokeswoman Alexia Croizer.
The storm is expected to pick up speed as it moves northwest on Friday and could reach Florida on Saturday, it said.
In Florida, a tropical storm watch was in effect for portions of the east-central coast. South Florida could see tropical storm force winds as early as Friday evening, the NHC said.
The tropical cyclone was not expected to bring anywhere near the devastation of Dorian, which slammed into the Bahamas on Sept. 1. It was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record to hit land, packing top sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (298 kph).
With 1,300 people still missing, according to the Bahamian government, relief services are focusing on search and rescue as well as providing food, water and shelter.
“We’re seeing plastic tarps go out all over the islands, and that’s extremely important because now you’ve got another tropical storm coming,” said Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs for U.S. relief organisation Samaritan’s Purse.
Despite the storm, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit the Bahamas on Friday and Saturday to speak with people affected by the hurricane and the humanitarian teams assisting them. He planned to meet with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis in Nassau.
Minnis on Wednesday said the official death toll stood at 50 but was expected to rise. He said he was trying to remove “bureaucratic roadblocks” to bringing aid to areas where the devastation made it hard for relief teams to reach.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said he believed “hundreds” were dead on Abaco “and significant numbers on Grand Bahama,” the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.
Officials have erected large tents in Nassau to house those made homeless by Dorian. They plan to erect tent cities on Abaco to shelter up to 4,000 people/
Residents Angry at Lack of Government Assistance
And as residents, they told CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett that they’re angry with the Bahamian government for not providing more aid.
The frustration was palpable as many residents said that the only assistance they’ve gotten has come from foreigners — and that they’re still living without cell service, power, and running water. When asked what he’d gotten from the Bahamian government, resident Barry Cooper said “nothing at all!”
The Bahamian government said it’s coordinating relief efforts from Nassau. But since most of the field teams come from private foreign aid groups, that’s all the residents in hard-hit communities see.
Barnett spoke to Cooper while visiting two remote islands with a group of retired Navy SEALs based in South Florida, who were on a mercy mission to deliver food and supplies. The scene on the islands was familiar: The journey to remote areas was possible only with a combination of seaplanes and small boats.
“For me and the guys of my company, it’s basically just that continued want to give back, and just continue serving after service,” said Mike Oberhelman.
There’s no landing area on one remote island, Sweetings Cay, so the boat touched down on the open ocean and transferred to a smaller vessel which brought relief supplies ashore. The boat’s arrival set off an urgent scramble by the residents of this small fishing community, once home to around 100 people. Now, only 26 remain.
Nolan Cooper is one of those people. Aid only started reaching his community about four days ago, more than a week after the Category 5 monster stalled directly on top of it for almost 30 straight hours.
“Are you still surprised at how powerful this was?” Barnett asked.
“More than surprised,” Cooper said. “They say it was a Category 5, I say it was a Cat 6!”
The retired U.S. service members plan to keep flying these missions for the foreseeable future — and with another storm on the way, they’re racing the weather to get shelter to those most in need.