By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis acknowledged the devastation wrecked so far by Hurricane Dorian in his greetings to journalists aboard the papal plane bound for Maputo, Mozambique, and asked everyone to pray for those affected.
“Those poor people,” he said, “who from one day to the next have lost their homes, everything, even their lives.”
Dorian crashed into the Bahamas on Sunday evening as a Category 5 hurricane, packing sustained winds nearing 300 km/h and storm surges of 5 m over normal tide levels.
At least 7 people were killed in the Bahamas, and nearly 13,000 homes were destroyed.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the death toll is expected to rise as rescue teams are able to reach flooded areas.
He called it “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history.”
Hurricane Dorian first slammed into the Abaco Islands with the highest-ever-recorded wind speeds at landfall. On Monday, the storm struck Grand Bahama and hovered there for 2 days, causing severe damage and flooding.
Church preparing emergency aid
Archbishop Patrick Pinder, whose jurisdiction covers the Bahamas, said the local Catholic Church is working to procure humanitarian aid to send to those suffering the effects of Dorian.
“We have a huge task ahead of us, and we are going to need a lot of help,” he said.
The Archdiocese of Nassau will be collecting water, food, hygiene kits, and children’s products to distribute to those affected. “The initial response is in itself a huge task and will require a lot of resources," said Archbishop Pinder.
He called Dorian “a very powerful and destructive hurricane”, adding that “its impact has been particularly direct and severe on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.”
More than 70,000 people were affected by the hurricane, said Archbishop Pinder, adding that recovery efforts “are sure to take a long time.”