Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, hit the Bahamas on September 1, 2019. The scale of the devastation only became fully clear September 4-5, with the country’s Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands being severely impacted, according to news reports.
CPJ is aware of international journalists who are trying to gain access to affected areas. Journalists traveling or planning to travel to the affected regions need to be aware of the following information:
- The Grand Bahama International Airport, the Grand Bahama Freeport Harbour, and the Leonard Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, are closed as of September 5, according to CNN. However, the Lynden Pindling International Airport of Nassau, the capital, is open.
- Hospitals and roads across Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands have been swamped by water. Helicopter evacuations have begun as part of the rescue effort.
- Survivors are reporting looting and violence on the Abaco Islands, and food and water supplies have been targeted by armed individuals, according to news reports.
Journalists who are flying or planning to fly to Nassau to gain access to the more devastated islands need to be aware of the high levels of water. Journalists traveling or planning to travel to the most affected areas also need to:
- Be self-sufficient or supported by aid agencies.
- Be correctly equipped with good footwear.
- Remain conscious of dangers from damaged buildings and infrastructure, including electric shocks and gas leaks.
- If entering the water, be aware of currents—as water escapes—and of holes and uncovered manholes. Never enter fast-flowing water.
- Be aware that sewage in standing water is a significant health risk. Avoid discolored water.
- Carry a first aid kit and sanitize hands regularly. Do not expose open wounds to the water as infection can occur.
- Take satellite phones and BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) if possible given that telecommunications are down. Communicate regularly with your base about your plans and whereabouts.
For more information on how to operate in disaster zones, journalists should consult CPJ’s Safety Note on Natural Disasters and Extreme Weather.
Journalists requiring assistance should contact CPJ via [email protected].
CPJ’s online Safety Kit provides journalists and newsrooms with basic safety information on physical, digital, and psychological safety resources and tools.