Hurricane Dorian damages health infrastructure on Grand Bahama island

Crews expected to airlift 5-7 end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco

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FREEPORT, Bahamas - Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands told The Associated Press that Hurricane Dorian devastated the health infrastructure on Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.

He said Tuesday that the storm caused less severe damage in the neighboring Abaco Islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.

Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbour is intact and sheltering 400 people, but it needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies. He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven't received dialysis since Friday.

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Dorian hit Abaco on Sunday with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph, a strength matched only by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. The storm then hovered over Grand Bahama for a day and a half.

United Nations officials, meanwhile, estimate more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food following the devastation left by the storm. 

A spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday that a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs. Herve Verhoosel said preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people on Grand Bahama island may need food, along with another 14,500 people in the neighboring Abaco Islands.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water. Matthew Cochrane said about 45 percent of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.

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