At least 23 of Sidney Poitier’s extended family are feared missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The actor-director’s nephew Jeffrey Poitier (66) said his sister Barbara and his adult children were among relatives they were awaiting news from in Freeport, Bahamas.
The family is one of hundreds scrambling to locate their loved ones a week after the category 5 hurricane wreaked devastation across the islands. In some cases, entire families were missing.
“We still couldn’t find any, nor have we heard from them,” Mr Poitier said. “We are still looking for and waiting for them to appear soon. It has us all worried. We are trying to reach out to them using every means available to us but we are not hearing anything. We are deeply worried.”
More than 500 Bahamians belong to the extended family of Sidney Poitier, the 92-year-old actor who was born in Miami to Bahamian parents and grew up in the Bahamas.
Up to 70,000 people have been left homeless while Great Abaco is said to be virtually uninhabitable, with bodies piled up and witnesses reporting the “smell of death” caused by corpses.
The official death toll so far stood at 35 to 42 in the Abaco Islands and eight in Grand Bahama – but Prime Minister Hubert Minnis warned that was likely to climb “significantly”.
The scramble to escape the worst-hit islands continued as some residents complained that their government was nowhere to be seen.
Government and private planes, helicopters, boats and ships – including cruise liners – have converged on the Abacos to help with evacuations.
More than 260 Abacos residents arrived last Friday in Nassau on a ferry, the first wave to be evacuated. However, the prime minister warned that not all Abaco residents could be accommodated in Nassau.
Chamika Durosier, who was waiting at the airport to escape, said: “People have no food. People have no water, it’s not right. They should have been gone. Dead bodies are still around, it’s not sanitary.”
Even though Dorian lost some of its ferocity by the time it reached the North American mainland, the eastern seaboard was pummelled by powerful winds and heavy rain.