Bahamian Storm Survivors Turned Away From U.S. Rescue Vessel

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Donald Trump’s inspiration for a myriad of funny Sharpie memes may be over. Yet the people of Bahamas are still trying to get their head arounds the total destruction left behind after the monster Hurricane Dorian hovered over the islands for endless hours. Then, the White House’s cruelty set in.

 

Less than a week after the Category 5 storm hit, 45 people were confirmed dead with multiples of that expected, 70,000 were left homeless, and hundreds were trying to leave the decimated islands.

The Grand Celebration humanitarian cruise ship rescued almost 1,500 evacuees, bringing them to Palm Beach Florida. The US Customers and Border Protection agency (CBP) changed its tune the next day.

According to a tweet by CNN affiliate WSVN reporter Brian Entin, a person on the loudspeaker announced that those without visas must disembark. The reporter was on the Balearia ferry traveling from Freeport, Bahama to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His video of the incident showed victims of the category 5 hurricane, families with children, leaving the ferry. He said up to 130 people left.

CBP released a statement this weekend:

‘CBP was notified of a vessel preparing to embark an unknown number of passengers in Freeport and requested that the operator of the vessel coordinate with U.S. and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas.’

 

The statement continued:

‘Everyone who arrives to the United States from another country must present themselves to a CBP officer for inspection at an official CBP Port of Entry. All persons must possess valid identity and travel documents. CBP has a Preclearance operation in Nassau. CBP is committed to carrying out our duties with professionalism and efficiency — facilitating lawful international travel and trade.’

Entin tweeted about the change:

‘Another announcement just made ordering any Bahamian without a US visa to disembark ferry — not allowed to evacuate. They were told before boarding it was ok with Bahamian passport and clean police record. Something has now changed.’

CBP’s website disagreed with the new requirements for entering the US from the Bahamas, because Bahamians are Americans. People flying do not need visas if they have a valid passport or travel documents and no criminal record — including a police certificate issued within six months:

‘CBP relies on the transportation companies in both the air and sea environments to be engaged in ensuring the safety and well-being of any individuals that have been devastated by this tragedy and that requires transparent communication and planning for adequate resources to receive any arrivals.’

In a second tweet, Entin said that CBP Florida blamed the ferry company:

‘Just interviewed @CBPFlorida when we got off ferry in FL. They say they would have accepted and processed the Bahamians, and blame the ferry company Balearia. CBP says they tried to coordinate with Balearia but company “made a business decision” to take the evacuees off the boat’

Presidential candidate and former representative Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) tweeted this was “the height of cruelty:”

‘This is the height of cruelty—denying help to those who need it most. This administration has said the words on the Statue of Liberty should be rewritten, and in their actions, they are already changing who we are as a country. It’s on us to prove we’re better than this.’

The Coast Guard continued to rescue people in Hurricane Dorian’s aftermath, 230 by Friday. There tales of survival have been horrifying, and many family members were still missing. Some spoke about seeing friends and neighbors drown.

The United States Agency for International Developmen (USAID) reported it had an additional $1 million in humanitarian assistants, with a total of over $2.8 million. It was earmarked for the people of the Bahamas.

The current death toll is 43, but Health Minister Duane Sands said:

‘(The public should anticipate) unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering.’

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted:

‘This must be immediately fixed.’

USAID Administrator Mark Green spoke to reporters this weekend. His agency was at the head of humanitarian relief efforts for America in the Bahamas:

‘(Providing) lifesaving and life-sustaining assistance: food, water, sanitation, emergency shelter, and medical care needed to facilitate the Bahamian government’s response.’

Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.

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