A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crewmember assists a group of people needing medical attention in the Bahamas, Sept 4, 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

U.S. Coast Guard Rescues More Than 400 in Bahamas; Government Says 1,300 Missing

The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued more than 400 people in the Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian hit as a new storm — dubbed Possible Tropical Cyclone Nine by the National Hurricane Center on Thursday night — was poised to hit parts of the northwest Bahamas with winds up to tropical-storm force.

As of Wednesday morning, the USCG had two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters operating out of Andros Island and two Coast Guard cutters conducting search-and-rescue missions and area assessments as well as providing logistical support.

The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force are leading search-and-rescue efforts. The agency lowered the number of missing persons to 1,300 on Thursday, down from a Wednesday estimate of 2,500.

The death toll is currently at least 50, but crews have yet to search through much of the rubble in the hard-hit Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

“Coast Guard assets will remain in the Bahamas as part of Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT),” the USCG said. “The Coast Guard remains poised to send aircraft and cutters back into the Bahamas to assist with urgent search-and-rescue needs.”

The Category 5 storm left some 70,000 Bahamians homeless. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, who promised temporary housing for the displaced, said in a statement, “The grief is unbearable following the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian, which has left behind death, destruction and despair on Grand Bahama and Abaco, our second and third most populous islands.”

Virginia Task Force 1, the international search-and-rescue team out of the Fairfax County, Va., Fire and Rescue Department, landed in the Bahamas on Sept. 5 and began conducting aerial assessments alongside the Coast Guard.

“The team remains focused on their assessment work, which is greatly helpful to the overall response as it helps focus assistance in the areas of most need. The team completed multiple aerial / ground surveys and collected information about infrastructure and other needs. All are well with no significant events,” Virginia Task Force 1 said in a mission update Wednesday. “There is currently nothing to share outside of what you see on social and conventional media. This is because the team is in a rhythm that will work well for the remainder of their time on mission.”

World Central Kitchen reported serving its 100,000th meal Monday to Bahamians in need. The relief group was also giving rides to those who needed to get to Nassau for medical aid and delivering solar lamps, which can also charge cell phones, to residents in areas that had electricity knocked out by the storm.

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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