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‘Bodies everywhere’: Harrowing account of Bahamas after Dorian


ISLAND. MEANTIME, THE NIGHTMARE IN THE BAHAMAS ESCALATES. AT LEAST 80 PEOPLE NOW CONFIRMED DEAD. HUNDREDS STILL MISSING. 30 PEOPLE DEAD. I MEANT TO SAY 30. THE COUNTRY’S TOP HEALTH OFFICIAL SAYS THE FINAL BODY COUNT COULD BE, ACCORDING TO HIM, STAGGERING. MORTICIANS ARE ON THE GROUND EMBALMING BODIES BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH COOLERS TO FIT THE STORM’S VICTIMS. WE’RE HEARING MORE AND MORE STORIES FROM SURVIVORS THAT WERE ON THE ABACO ISLANDS WHERE THE STORM SURGE WAS 23 FEET AND THE WINDS 185 MILES AN HOUR GUSTING HIGHER. A MAN SAID HE WAS TREADING WATER WITH HIS 5-YEAR-OLD SON TRYING TO CLING TO THE ROOF OF THEIR HOME WHEN A POWERFUL GUST BLEW THE YOUNG BOY INTO THE RAGING FLOOD WATERS. THE FATHER SAYS HIS SON WAS REACHING FOR ME AND CALLING ME, “DADDY” AS THE STORM SWEPT HIM AWAY. OUR STEVE HARRIGAN IS ON THE GROUND LIVE ON ABACO RIGHT NOW. STEVE, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING? WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?>>SHEPARD, I’M STANDING IN WHAT USED TO BE A HOUSE HERE ON ABACO ISLAND. THE FOUNDATION IS LEFT WHAT USED TO BE SOMEBODY’S NEIGHBORHOOD. AS FAR AS I CAN SEE BEHIND ME OFF TO THE RIGHT, OFF TO THE LEFT, THERE’S NOTHING LEFT HERE. IT’S AS IF SOMEONE TOOK A SNOW GLOBE AND JUST SHOOK IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF HURRICANE THAT JUST TEARS THE ROOF OFF A HOUSE. IT’S THE KIND OF HURRICANE THAT HIT HERE WITH 185 MILES PER HOUR WINDS FOR TWO DAYS. YOU MENTIONED THE BODY COUNT. THAT IS GOING TO CHANGE DRAMATICALLY BECAUSE WHEN YOU STAND HERE, YOU CAN SMELL BODIES. I CAN SEE DEAD DOGS FROM WHERE I’M STANDING. WHEN I WALK OVER THAT HILL TO A CHURCH THERE, YOU CAN SEE DEAD BODIES PROTRUDING FROM THE ROCKS. FLOATING IN THE SUN FOR SEVERAL DAYS HERE. AS FAR AS THE BODY COLLECTION, WE’VE SEEN ONE STORAGE TRUCK HOLDING BODIES AND POLICE WALK THROUGH WITH MACHETES GUIDED BY A SENSE OF SMELL TRYING TO FIND MORE BODIES. THIS WAS A VERY POOR AREA A LOT OF HAITIANS HERE IN THIS TOWN ON ABACO ISLAND. SO IT’S — YOU GET A SENSE THAT PEOPLE DIDN’T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE HERE. THEY DON’T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE GONE. NO ONE REALLY SEEMS TO BE LOOKING FOR THEM VERY HARD. WE DID SEE SOME REAL ACTS OF COMPASSION AND CHARITY AT THE PORT. A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM THE BAHAMAS BRINGING THEIR OWN PRIVATE BOATS. IT’S ALMOST LIKE A FLOTILLA OF DESPERATE PEOPLE TRYING TO GET OUT. THEY’RE TAKING WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST. JUMP ON THE BOAT, NO BAGS. AT LEASE YOU CAN GET OUT OF ABACO ISLAND. IT’S JUST A HELL WITH NOTHING. WE’VE SEEN PICTURES OF HOUSES HERE. WE ASK PEOPLE WHAT DO YOU HAVE? THEY SAY NOTHING. WHAT DO YOU MEAN NOTHING? YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING? SO WHEN YOU GET IN DISCUSSIONS WITH PEOPLE, SOMETIMES IT CAN GET HEATED, VERY EMOTIONAL. CERTAINLY PEOPLE THAT LOST FAMILY MEMBERS, LOST HOUSES AND WHO LOOK AROUND AT THIS LANDSCAPE, WHICH IS COMPLETELY CHANGED, YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THAT EMOTION. PEOPLE BASICALLY DON’T KNOW WHERE THEIR HOUSE WAS THIS IS SUCH A JUMBLE AT THIS POINT, SHEPARD. .>>Shepard: IS IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO SHOW US AROUND THERE, THE AREA WHERE YOU ARE?>>LET’S GIVE A SLOW PAN AND JUST TRY TO LOOK AT SOME OF WHAT WE’RE SEEING HERE. IT’S REALLY AN ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD THAT IS GONE, THIS IS THE WORST OF IT. YOU’RE JUST SEEING FOUNDATION AFTER FOUNDATION, CAR AFTER RUINED CAR. IN SOME OF THESE RUINED CARS, WHICH HAVE BEEN FLIPPED OVER AND BATTERED, YOU CAN SEE PEOPLE SITTING INSIDE BECAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY PLACE THEY HAD TO SIT. YOU CAN SEE PEOPLE WALKING DOWN THE STREET, CARRYING WHATEVER ITEMS THEY HAVE. GAS IS IN SHORT SUPPLY. YOU BASICALLY — WHATEVER YOU HAVE, YOU’RE CARRYING ON YOUR BACK OR IN A SHOPPING CART, IT’S REALLY LIKE SCENES OUT OF MAD MAX HERE. THE TREES ARE DOWN. THE SHIPPING CONTAINERS WERE THROWN OVER FROM THE PORT. SO EVERYTHING IS REALLY IN A JUMBLE. THE PEOPLE SEEM A LITTLE BIT STUNNED. IT SMELLS BAD HERE. AS SOON AS YOU STAND HERE, YOU’RE LIKE OH! IF YOU’VE BEEN TO RWANDA DURING THE GENOCIDE, IF YOU’VE BEEN TO HAITI AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE, YOU KNOW THAT SMELL. RIGHT HERE ON ABACO ISLAND, YOU HAVE THAT SMELL, SHEPARD.>>Shepard: STEVE, I MUST ADMIT, WHEN I FOUND OUT THAT YOU MADE IT THERE TODAY, I WAS SO RELIEVED BECAUSE YOU EXPERIENCED THE THINGS YOU JUST TALKED ABOUT FOR DECADES. YOU’VE BEEN IN WAR ZONES AND NATURAL DISASTERS. THOUGH WE’VE SEEN THE PICTURES, WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET A FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT. I WAS HOPING YOU COULD BE THERE.>>THANKS, SHEPARD. WHEN YOU SEE IT, IT’S DIFFERENT. YOU CAN READ AN A.P. BODY RECORD. BUT WHEN YOU GO TO THE BAPTIST CHURCH 500 YARDS AWAY AND YOU SEE ARMS AND LEGS STICKING OUT OF THE STONES — PEOPLE WHO WERE PROBABLY TRYING TO TAKE REFUGE IN A CHURCH AND THEY’RE DEAD. THEY’RE STILL SITTING THERE. YOU GET A FEELING THERE’S A LACK OF URGENCY. ONE BECAUSE IT’S DIFFICULT TO REACH. BUT THESE ARE THE POOREST OF THE POOR. THEY’RE DEAD. NOBODY KNOWS WHO THEY ARE AND HOW MANY THERE ARE. THERE DOESN’T SEEM TO BE A LOT OF URGENCY TO TRY TO FIND THEIR BODIES AND GIVE THEM A BURIAL.>>Shepard: NOT TO CAST A ASPERSIONS, WHAT IS STRIKING FROM HUNDREDS OF MILES AWAY, YOU DON’T SEE ANYONE OUT THERE TRYING TO GET ANYTHING DONE. HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE OUT IF ANYONE IS IN CHARGE OR WHEN –>>NO, NO. I TELL YOU, I SAW GOOD THINGS. I SAW PEOPLE GETTING ON BOATS, PEOPLE TRYING TO ESCAPE THIS. THIS IS BASICALLY A HOT TIN PAN OF DESTRUCTION AND DEAD BODIES. PEOPLE ARE JUST TRYING TO GET OUT OF HERE AS FAST AS THEY CAN. WE’VE SEEN HELICOPTER PILOTS FROM THE U.S. COAST GUARD CARRYING PEOPLE OFF THAT WERE EITHER SO WEAK OR SO TRAUMATIZED THEY CAN’T EVEN WALK. SO WE HAVE SEEN HEROISM. KEEP IN MIND, THIS IS A TOUGH PLACE TO GET TO. THE AIRPORTS ARE DOWN. THE HARBORS HAVE SUNKEN VESSELS IN THEM. BUT YOU’RE RIGHT, FOR A DISASTER OF THIS LEVEL, IT’S DEAD QUIET HERE. I’M NOT TRYING TO MAKE A PLAY ON WORDS. BUT YOU WOULD THINK THERE’S BULLDOZERS AND ACTIVITY. IT GETS WORSE.>>Shepard: WE HEAR BY BOAT IT’S NOT FAR. YOU WONDER IF THERE’S ISN’T — I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT PEOPLE THAT HAVE –>>YEAH. IT’S A HARD THING TO DO. IT’S HARD THING TO TALK TO PEOPLE. BECAUSE YOU KNOW, EVERYONE HAS BEEN THROUGH THE SAME SITUATION HERE. THE GUY WHO IS DRIVING US AROUND, WE FOUND HIM. YOU’RE ALMOST HESITANT TO SAY HOW ARE YOU DOING? DOING WELL? YOU KNOW, I SWAM TO SAFETY WITH MY WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN IN MY ARMS. YOU KNOW, HE’S DRIVING US BECAUSE HE NEEDS MONEY RIGHT NOW. HE’S BEEN THROUGH HELL. JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY HERE HAS. WE’RE JUST SEEING THEM WALK AND PICK THROUGH AND SEE WHAT THEY CAN FIND HERE. I’M LOOKING AT SOME OLD CLOTHES, TOILETS, SOME LOOSE SHOES. YOU KNOW, WE’VE SEEN A LOT OF HURRICANES, WE’VE SEEN A LOT OF STORMS. TO SEE IT JUMBLED LIKE THIS, BASICALLY TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN IS A DIFFERENT LEVEL OF DESTRUCTION. IT’S HARD TO SEE HOW THIS GETS BACK TO ANY SENSE OF NORMALCY HERE FOR SOME TIME TO COME, SHEPARD.>>Shepard: YOU WERE OVER IN NASSAU. THERE’S MOUNTING EFFORTS FROM THERE. IS THERE A FLOTILLA THAT WILL COME OR — I’M TRYING TO GET A SENSE OF HOW THE FUTURE MIGHT BE BETTER IN SOME WAY TO CLEAN IT UP AND BURY PEOPLE.>>I THINK WE’VE SPOKEN TO SOME PEOPLE HERE ON THE GROUND WHO HAVE REALLY EXPRESSED THEIR GRATITUDE TO THE U.S. COAST GUARD WHOSE PILOTS HAVE BEEN FLYING AROUND THE CLOCK TO AIRLIFT THE SICKEST AND THE WEAKEST AND THE MOST INJURED OUT OF HERE. THAT BEING SAID, A LOT OF PEOPLE WHOSE MEDICATIONS HAVE RUN OUT. THERE’S NOT ENOUGH HELICOPTERS TAKING THEM IN AND OUT. WE’VE SEEN VOLUNTEERISM FROM BAHAMIANS BRINGING THEIR BOATS, THROWING FOOD ON SHORE AND TAKING PEOPLE ON BOARD. THE NEED IS HUGE. THE NEED IS DRAMATIC. IT’S JUST TOO QUIET. THESE PEOPLE ARE TOO DESPERATE. WE’VE SEEN HOW THIS STORY PLAYS OUT WHEN PEOPLE DON’T HAVE FOOD, DON’T HAVE WATER. THINGS CAN SPIRAL BADLY QUICKLY. I GET THE REAL SENSE THAT HELP IS ON THE WAY. IT’S NOT AS URGENT AS ANYBODY WOULD LIKE. WE SAW PEOPLE MAPPING OUT THE FLOOR OF THE OCEAN NEAR THE PORT. I EXPECT WE’LL SEE LARGER SHIPS IN. I EXPECT WE’LL SEE PLANES IN ON THE RUNWAY. BUT RIGHT NOW, LET’S STICK WITH WHAT WE’RE SEEING. WE’RE SEEING ZERO HERE. WE’RE SEEING A FEW HELL CONTINUERS AND WE’RE SEEING DEAD BODIES, ARMS AND LEGS STILL PROTRUDING SIX DAYS AFTER A STORM, SHEPARD.>>Shepard: STEVE HARRIGAN AND OUR PHOTOGRAPHER, BOTH VETERANS OF THIS SHOWING US WHAT WE KNEW WAS COMING. IT’S JUST SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO SEE IT ONCE ITS THERE. TO ALL OF THAT’S THAT HAVE

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