‘Like zombies’: Hurricane’s victims face heartbreak and loss

Image: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP

Image: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP

By Michael Weissenstein

ABACO, Bahamas (AP) — Lugging empty suitcases, plastic buckets and backpacks, dazed survivors of Hurricane Dorian made their way back to the shantytown where they used to live, hoping to gather up some of their soggy belongings.

The community was known as The Mudd, and it was built by thousands of Haitian migrants over decades. It was razed in a matter of hours by Dorian, which ripped apart the shelters and scattered splintered plywood and two-by-fours for miles.

A helicopter buzzed overhead Thursday as people picked through the debris, avoiding a body that lay tangled underneath a tree branch next to twisted sheets of corrugated metal, its hands stretched toward the sky. It was one of at least nine bodies that people said they had seen in the area.

“Ain’t nobody come to get them,” said Cardot Ked, a 43-year-old carpenter from Haiti who has lived 25 years in Abaco. “If we could get to the next island, that’s the best thing we can do.”

Ked was one of thousands of desperate people seeking help in Dorian’s aftermath. With winds of 185 mph (295 kph), the hurricane obliterated houses on the Bahamas’ Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, home to some 70,000 people. The official death toll from the government stood at 20 and was certain to climb.

Search-and-rescue operations and an international humanitarian effort to help the victims picked up speed, with emergency officials fanning out across the stricken areas and tracking down people who were missing or in distress. Crews began clearing streets and setting up distribution centers for food and water.

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