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OpinionEditorial

Survivors in the Bahamas are desperate for America's help

Homes flattened by Hurricane Dorian are seen in

Homes flattened by Hurricane Dorian are seen in Abaco, Bahamas on Thursday. Credit: AP/Gonzalo Gaudenzi

The Bahamas needs help.

Hurricane Dorian hovered for about two days over the archipelago of islands a hop from Miami, causing massive damage yet to be calculated. Dorian clocked in as the second strongest Atlantic storm on record, with winds of 180 mph and storm surges of 20-plus feet.

Houses disappeared under the Category 5 onslaught. Streets looked like rivers. The death toll is rising, and tens of thousands need medical attention. Rescue and aid efforts were hampered due to the violent weather, and the near-destruction of the paradisiacal tourist destination’s international airport and ports. Small boats, water scooters, drones and helicopters are being used to help the victims.

The toll might even exceed that from Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Patrol deployed helicopters to help provide immediate relief, and U.S. Navy assets were ready to respond, too. That’s good — but what awaits Bahamians might prove even more brutal.

Supply chains have been disrupted, laying the groundwork for shortages of much-needed food, water and medicine. With some 76,000 people in need, the UN World Food Program is providing eight tons of ready-to-eat meals. Weeks of chaotic recovery will be dangerous. We saw this in Puerto Rico in 2017, when secondary death tolls caused by the storm skyrocketed over initial counts.

Further aid is crucial during this period, and Washington must work quickly with international partners to shore up our reeling neighbor. That means more than retweeting weather reports. President Donald Trump should call for and support a coordinated international response.

Hurricane Maria prompted an outpouring of support from New York State and City Hall, given Puerto Rico’s tightly knit diaspora here. There hasn’t been the same level of local support this time, but that should change.

Many disaster-relief organizations have kicked into gear. People should remember that cash donations are most helpful to quickly reach those in need. Watchdogs like Charity Navigator offer lists of reputable organizations.

Dorian has wrought a humanitarian disaster. Now is the time for Americans to show their humanity. — The editorial board

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