The Bahamas

Andre Penner / AP

COMMENTARY

It’s a mystery why the Trump Administration chose Miami this week as one of only two major U.S. cities to be sent “riot teams” as protests against police brutality and racism sweep the nation.

But you can be fairly sure that that brief federal deployment impressed one very large group here in particular: conservative, voter-eligible Latin American expats, especially those who fled lawlessness in their home countries for the law and order of this one. And yet, Latin American expats are precisely the South Floridian voices that should be out in front of these angry marches – warning the rest of us.

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — A few days after Hurricane Dorian, Amanda Kellowan rummaged through what was left. She had just spent 36 hours in the attic of her home, fleeing from the 30-foot storm surge that swept over her island home of Grand Bahama last September.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

It's hard to wrap your arms around everything that happened 2019 in Latin America and the Caribbean. It's even harder to find any good news — from the violent political unrest that rocked capitals from La Paz to Port-au-Prince, to a record number of fires that ravaged the Amazon rainforest.

More than a month after Hurricane Dorian ripped through Mash Harbour in the Bahamas, the debris —smashed pieces of wood that used to be houses, cars flipped on their sides and boats washed up in people’s yards — is strewn everywhere.

Just over a month after Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern Bahamas, parts of the island nation are still in ruins, thousands of people remain displaced and rebuilding has only just begun.

"We are moving as quickly as we can to get up and running," says Michael Jones. "But when that will be is anyone's guess."

Editor's note: This story includes images that some readers may find disturbing.

Sherrine Petit Homme LaFrance was crying on the side of a road when China Laguerre spotted her.

Hurricane Dorian destroyed LaFrance's newly constructed house in Great Abaco Island on the northern edge of the Bahamas the same night she moved in. That was on Sept. 1.

Nirmal Mulaikal/WLRN

Miami activists and a Hurricane Dorian survivor called on the Bahamian government Thursday to suspend immigration enforcement actions that threaten to deport undocumented migrants living in government-operated Bahamian shelters. 

 

National hurricane center

Tropical Storm Karen could perform a feat of mid-ocean acrobatics later this week and execute a clockwise loop that will take it toward Florida and the Bahamas. However, experts say it’s too soon to assess the extent of the threat.

Karen weakened Wednesday afternoon and the National Hurricane Center sharply lowered its estimates of the storm’s likely top winds over the next few days, reducing its projections from 65 to 45 mph.

Nadege Green / WLRN News

A little over a week after Hurricane Dorian made landfall and ravaged parts of the Bahamas, students at Florida Memorial University joined together for a prayer service.

Brea Rolle sat in the front pew with her head bowed.

Rolle is from Grand Bahama, one of the areas hardest hit by hurricane Dorian. Her mom sent her a message on Whatsapp saying she’s ok, followed by solemn news— their home is completely destroyed.

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Dorian decimated parts of the Bahamas. The death toll has climbed to at least 50, and according to some news reports, 1,300 people are reported missing — a drop from an initial figure of 2,500.

Thousands of Bahamians face a difficult decision in the days, weeks and months ahead: whether they should stay to rebuild, come to the United States for awhile, or aim to start a new life in America.

Former classmates and colleagues are remembering one of the many victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. Philip "P.J." Thomas was a captain and harbor pilot who along with his three children died when the storm roared through Grand Bahama island on Sept. 1.

While the official death toll in the Bahamas from Dorian stands at 50, officials say some 2,500 are missing.

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

A number widely cited by media outlets and elected officials since Hurricane Dorian pounded the Bahamas is incorrect, the United Nations has acknowledged.

In a press briefing last Friday, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: “We believe that about 70,000 people are currently homeless in the Bahamas.”

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

The Bahamas' government is sharing a wish list of materials to help the country provide food and shelter for residents who are still reeling from Hurricane Dorian. Officials say they need lots of help and supplies — but they also want targeted donations.

"Officials here for instance don't want to be inundated with cans of green beans when what they really need is telephone poles," NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from the capital city, Nassau.

They're facing a relief and reconstruction job that's likely to go on for years.

Mike Stocker / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he welcomes Bahamians to Florida, as long as they have passports, visas and a place to stay.

There are no shelters open in the state for those displaced by Hurricane Dorian, and the migration of Bahamians should be a federal concern — not Florida’s, the governor said.

For those who are flying from the Bahamas to Florida and have family or friends to stay with, “that’s no harm for us,” DeSantis said Tuesday.

Joe Cavaretta / South Florida Sun Sentinel

President Donald Trump dismissed bipartisan calls from Florida lawmakers to ease entry requirements for people fleeing Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in the Bahamas, saying “totally proper documentation" is needed to ensure “very bad people” don’t exploit the disaster.

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