Where US medics say they can smell more bodies than they can find
More than two weeks after Hurricane Dorian hit the East Grand Bahama, the once gorgeous island of 51,000 residents still looks like a war zone.
The carnage is so widespread and the stench of death so overwhelming that even police officers can’t bear to see it.
According to Patricia Freling, a Florida nurse volunteering in East Grand Bahama, police say they don’t want to go there since it is too hard on them to go see their own people.
“They think there will be a lot of bodies. So we are preparing for everything,” said Patricia. The team includes paramedics, nurses, a counselor and a retired US Marine.
29-year-old Brittany Reidy, a nurse, told CNN that US medics smell the carnage before they see it. “That is the smell of dead bodies,” Reidy said from the back of a pickup truck.
The official death toll across the Bahamas is 52. But that number is expected to skyrocket, with 1,300 people still missing two weeks after the hurricane.
Some may be trapped under mountains of rubble where houses once stood while others may have been washed away in the storm surge, their bodies only recently surfacing on land.
My fear is that if no one stacked the bodies, they might still be there,” said Tanya Steinlage, an emergency pediatric nurse practitioner.
Steinlage said the bodies she encountered had most likely washed up during the storm surges because there were no standing structures anywhere in sight.
“They need to bring cadaver dogs out here to find them,” she says. “Right now, they are just (considered) missing,” he added.
Resident Patrice Higgs, 49, survived the storm in Mcleans’ Town Cay. But she cut herself sifting through the rubble. The medics gave her bandages, antibacterial soap and clean water.
Sean Russell is one of the luckier residents from East Grand Bahama. “I’m alive, and that’s all that matters,” he said. “Not everyone can say that.”
But his house was destroyed, as were most of his belongings. “A loss of this magnitude is really tough.”
Russell breaks down and grapples with flashbacks from the Category 5 hurricane that whipped 185-mph winds and pummeled his island for days.
“No one would ever in their wildest dream would believe a storm would come like that,” he said. Now, everything he owns fits in a small overnight bag.
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