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Amid crush of Dorian refugees, Bahamas capital 'not built to handle this,' official says

Jim Wyss, Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

He also said the negative news coverage threatened the islands' recovery.

"If everything you put out there is negative, then the people will not rise up," he said. "We want the sun to rise again in the Bahamas."

The United States has provided about $2.8 million in assistance and the U.S. Coast Guard has played a key role in evacuating the elderly and wounded. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which has come under fire after some storm evacuees were not allowed to board a ferry from Freeport to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, said it has already received two cruise ships and processed "thousands of folks."

"Flights are coming in constantly," acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said. "We've already allowed U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens in. We've already processed people that have travel documents and don't have travel documents."

Mark Green, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, who flew over Abaco on Sunday, said the storm had been "particularly cruel to the poor" -- leveling shantytowns as if they were hit by a "nuclear bomb."

"Those are gone," he said of those communities. "They are nowhere to be found."

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration, which controls the airspace over the Bahamas above 7,000 feet, continued to restrict flights over Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Amid the crying babies and anxious faces of the evacuees arriving at the Nassau airport, Archie McDonald (no relationship to Jean-Louis McDonald) sat in a waiting area placidly eating a cookie.

 

Like everyone else, the 78-year-old had lost most of his house and had spent two days trying to flee the island. But he said Dorian didn't rank high among his list of tragedies.

The storm was a minor bump compared to losing his first wife to cancer when he was in his 30s. "Now that buckled me," he said.

"After you get to my age very few things bother you," he added. "If you're still alive, you just have to handle it one way or another."

(Miami Herald Caribbean correspondent Jacqueline Charles and Miami Herald reporter David Goodhue contributed to this report.)

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