Demand for flights out of Bahamas still high for evacuees

Residents continue to pack airports, looking to leave

By Roy Ramos - Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas - Debris and destruction is what’s left of a neighborhood near March Harbour, and now more than 70,000 people are believed to be left homeless. 

There are 44 reportedly dead. 

Residents stood for hours on the tarmac at Treasure Cay International Airport hoping to find a flight to Nassau and leave the Abacos, where nothing is left.

"There are communities that have been destroyed," Mark Green, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said. "Absolutely devastated. It's almost like a forced nuclear attack, and so the needs in those areas are acute and they're immediate."

Green and his team surveyed the damage, saying they are working closely with the Bahamian government and looking at all emergency needs. 

More than 2,500 evacuees arrived Saturday at Nassau International Airport. 

Shannon Taccaliate, a registered nurse who works at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, said she discovered a mother and her 2-week-old infant in Freeport, just waiting for a flight to Nassau.

"They were actually U.S. citizens, so we were able to get them on a plane -- a private plane -- to West Palm Beach," she said. "Two weeks old. I mean, the baby was in the sun all day."

The minister of tourism and aviation in the Bahamas, Dionisio James D'Aguilar, said evacuees are still waiting to fly out. 

"We are processing enormous amounts of flights," he said. "So, by and large, I would presume that we've gotten many thousands of Bahamians out of Abaco, either by boat or by plane."

D'Aguilar said the organization is encouraging evacuees to stay with family and friends. It will be a challenge for the government to find them housing. 

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