JUDY WOODRUFF: Now let’s get an update on
the situation in the Bahamas and the very difficult relief efforts. Stephanie Sy is our new national correspondent
at the “NewsHour.” She will be based in Phoenix. But she joins us here at the desk here tonight
with the story. Welcome, Stephanie. We’re so glad to have you. STEPHANIE SY: Thank you so much, Judy. It’s great to be part of your team. Unfortunately, the scope of Hurricane Dorian’s
destruction in the Bahamas is still coming into focus. The island of Abaco is virtually uninhabitable. And there’s major destruction near Freeport
and the surrounding area on Grand Bahama. Government officials say 2,500 people are
listed as missing. Some of them could be in shelters or still
on the islands. Earlier this evening, I spoke with Christy
Delafield of the relief group Mercy Corps. She joined us via Skype from the eastern part
of the Grand Bahama. And I began by asking what it looks like there. CHRISTY DELAFIELD, Mercy Corps: The destruction
on Abaco really was complete. The homes were flattened. It’s not quite like that here in Freeport. The buildings were built a little bit better. They fared a little bit better. But people still don’t have running water. A lot of windows are blown out. The wind did a tremendous amount of damage
on roofs. And the floodwaters were devastating. Floodwaters of up to maybe eight feet just
destroyed people’s homes and people’s vehicles with salty, contaminated water. STEPHANIE SY: We know that those floodwaters
were dangerous as well. And the government is now saying that there
are 2,500 people that are still unaccounted for. Is that surprising to you to hear that number? CHRISTY DELAFIELD: Sadly, no. This is something that we were hearing from
people all along in the past week, people saying that they had loved ones that they
hadn’t heard from or that they didn’t really know where — where people had fled to or
how they had fared. So this is — this is devastating. And we need to learn more information, and
the search-and-rescue needs to continue. STEPHANIE SY: And that doesn’t necessarily
mean the death toll will go that high. CHRISTY DELAFIELD: No, it’s a thing that just
we need to get through the confirmation process. And that’s, you know, managed through the
government, and they are going to work to understand the full picture. And it just takes time. STEPHANIE SY: Let’s talk about the response
for groups like Mercy Corps in week two vs. how you responded in the days right after
the hurricane. What are you focused on now? CHRISTY DELAFIELD: Today, the focus is really
on connecting with those organizations locally that understand whose needs haven’t been met. We’re still really trying to bring in urgently
needed supplies, clean water, food, tarps, rope, all those things that needs to be brought
in, in great volume. But, at the same time, we understand that
there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Different people lost different things and
need different things. And this is a part of a response where you
start to see maybe pockets of people that are more difficult to get to that aren’t getting
help that they need. I think that one of the other things that
you might not expect that’s really been useful in this situation is, Mercy Corps is bringing
in solar lanterns, so people have a little bit more light, the electricity grid being
knocked out. But they also have a little USB charger, so
people can charge their phones. As the cellular service is coming back, that’s
a really important way to communicate out with different communities, help people reach
their loved ones and access emergency services. STEPHANIE SY: It’s September, and school should
be starting for kids there this month. Will they be able to go to school anytime
soon? CHRISTY DELAFIELD: School was supposed to
start on Monday. We’re seeing a lot of people, a lot of kids
who just before the storm were buying school uniforms, were buying new clothes. They had paid school fees, which is how that
operate here in the Bahamas. And it’s a real disappointment for a lot of
families who aren’t going to be able to send their kids back to school. We’re also hearing that it might be as much
as two months before the electricity gets back up and running. Of course, local officials are working really
quickly and as fast as they can to get that to happen for schools and other really essential
resources. But it may be some time. STEPHANIE SY: When it comes to the Bahamian
economy, what are the longer-term ramifications that are becoming evident now? CHRISTY DELAFIELD: So, this is an economy
that is really driven by tourism. As a lot of people who have visited the Bahamas
know, it’s a beautiful destination. It’s an archipelago made up of hundreds of
islands. These two islands being devastated aren’t
in a position to welcome tourists, but the Bahamian government is really concerned that
they’re seeing fewer visitors and just depression over all of the tourist economy, which could
have broader ramifications moving forward. And there are a lot of people that are wondering
if they’re going to have jobs in the next year or two years. STEPHANIE SY: A tough road ahead, for sure. Christy Delafield of Mercy Corps, thank you
so much for your insights there in Grand Bahama. CHRISTY DELAFIELD: Thank you for having me.

In the Bahamas, how relief groups are tackling ruined infrastructure and lack of power
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