The Bahamian government has denied allegations that officials are rejecting or stalling aid for the Abaco Islands in a bid to pressure remaining residents to evacuate.
Three sources working with nonprofits told Fox News on Tuesday that Bahamian officials encouraged them to hold off on delivering items like generators and water filtration systems to the Abaco Islands, which were devastated by Hurricane Dorian last week.
A spokesman for the Bahama’s emergency management agency, NEMA, told Fox News the claims are inaccurate.
The spokesman admitted the distribution of aid to all of the islands has not been as consistent as people wish. However, he said that was partly due to the fact that most vehicles were destroyed by the storm.
Food and supplies were still flooding into Marsh Harbour Airport in the Abaco Islands, but for the most part, no locals were there to use them.
Fox News was told that rescues in the Abaco Islands are largely completed, as are most evacuations. Military aircraft are now flying supplies to the smaller surrounding cays, where more residents have chosen not to evacuate.
In Marsh Harbour, neighborhoods with names like “Pigeon Pea” and “da Mudd” are empty. All that appears to be left are piles of rubble and the bodies buried underneath them. On a nearby dock, pallets of emergency ready meals sat untouched for most the afternoon.
In one grocery store, shelves are filled with food. Boxes of donated food are scattered about, but they are unopened and only a handful of people were coming for supplies. Some say supplies are not getting to the people who need them fast enough — and many of those in need have already evacuated to Nassau.
Atisha Kemp, a local activist and one of many still searching for missing relatives, says those who survived Dorian’s wrath are “coming out of hell and going right back into hell.
“We got thousands of people coming [to Nassau]. Don’t know where they’re going. They’re going in shelters,” Kemp said. “We have no plan. Who’s going to assist us? Who is coming to help us?”
Mortuary facilities in Nassau are overwhelmed, according to officials. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency says the dead are being placed in body bags and temporarily stored in refrigerated containers. Fox News saw at least two bodies recovered in Abaco, on Tuesday.
In Nassau, shelters are overcrowded. Sixteen children, most of them toddlers, were brought to the Children Emergency Hostel on Sunday. Caretaker Lovinia Baker Hutchison told Fox News the shelter has never had as many children as it has right now.
Now that the children are in Nassau, Hutchinson said, “there’s not much to do, but care for one another and pray that everything will get better.”
The storm is believed to have left 70,000 Bahamians homeless. Many, like Shakeria Blanc, say they have nowhere to go.
Blanc arrived in Nassau from the Abaco Islands over the weekend with her 5-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter. She told Fox News that her family lost everything when Hurricane Dorian came through.
“We don’t know [where we’ll go]. As soon as we register we’ll figure out what we’re going to do, where we’re going to stay and everything. Right now, we are all homeless,” she said with a shrug, “just hoping for the best.”
Kathleen Reuschle and The Associated Press contributed to this report.