Officials in the Bahamas expect the death toll from Hurricane Dorian to rise “significantly.” The storm is blamed for at least 30 deaths so far, yet thousands are reported missing. Search and rescue missions continue around the clock. The U.S. Coast Guard says it has rescued more than 200 people.
Residents are expressing frustration and anger at Bahamian officials for not accelerating relief efforts on the islands, when thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed. In the remote islands off Treasure Cay, residents there are completely cut off without cellphone service and electricity. Clean water and food is running out.
Most people are polite, but practically begging for help.
“CBS This Morning” lead national correspondent David Begnaud traveled with renowned chef José Andrés, whose nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen, is delivering thousands of meals to these remote islands off Treasure Cay.
They took off from Nassau with a helicopter full of hope – so much water, fruit and food that some of it was nearly in chef José Andrés’ lap. He wasn’t mad about that – but he’s unhappy with the pace.
“I blame myself today,” he said. “When things go well, we are going to deliver 7,500 meals. But for me, this is half of what we are supposed to be doing already.”
He first landed in Green Turtle Cay on the Abaco Islands, and people were waiting. As the chef unloaded food, Begnaud asked people what they need. “Homes!” one woman yelled.
In this community of about 550 people, it looked as though most every structure was either damaged or destroyed, including the stores selling food.
“We need ice,” residents said. “We have no power. We need generators. We need help, a lot of help.”
That’s why the delivery from Andrés matters. And he didn’t just bring food. He handed a chainsaw to a police officer. “You asked for it, you got it,” he said.
From here, the chef headed for Treasure Cay. After landing on a tennis court, one local cautioned Andrés. “This right here, right now, has only been allowed to be used so far for Coast Guard,” he said. “This [helipad], what we set up here was for Coast Guard only for emergency evacuations.”
They didn’t know him. The man asked for Andrés’ contact information before declining his offer to deliver even more food every day.
“Sir, I’ve never had a business card in my life,” Andrés said.
The man began to walk away. Andrés tried to stop him: “Look, I’m here, I’m going to come every day for you.”
“You make available how to reach you, we’ll coordinate how to do all of that, okay?”
“But I’ll come every day to bring you food.”
“We’re not looking for a few sandwiches out of helicopter,” the man said. “We need to set up a real food center here.”
Andrés then visited a community center where a woman told the chef what they need for this island’s roughly 1,500 people. “What we need is pasta, pasta sauce, canned goods, rice, grits.”
“You don’t have a lot of quantity of those? Do you have the capacity to cook it?”
Before leaving, Begnaud asked volunteer fireman Greg Johnson to assess the conditions.
“It’s deplorable,” Johnson said. “People are getting violent, angry, upset. And we’re trying to get our government officials. If you guys do see this, please come down here and show your faces. We need you guys to show your faces here, so the people can understand and know that you guys care.
“At this point in time, we are on our own, and the U.S. is the only place that is helping us.”
Andrés said he has asked officials, “Tell me where to go” with his relief efforts, but so far he has received no direction from authorities, so he goes wherever he hears there is need. And residents of remote islands who have not seen sign of authorities are taking on leadership roles themselves.
This morning a 227-foot ship hired by José Andrés and his team of humanitarian cooks has arrived in Nassau from Fort Lauderdale. It’s packed with 20,000 meals and enough supplies and raw ingredients to make plenty more than that.
His team is already back at work this morning, and he says these deliveries are going to continue day after day.