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Tropical Storm Humberto threatens Bahama islands ravaged by Dorian

Matthew McNulty

Barely two weeks after Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on the Bahamas, a new tropical storm is threatening to move "near or over" the chain's northwestern islands on Saturday, with gale force winds and heavy rainfall to follow.

By early Saturday, Tropical Storm Humberto’s center was 70 miles east of Great Abaco Island, according to the National Hurricane Center. Great Abaco was the hardest hit by Hurricane Dorian, with “more than three-quarters of all buildings (having) been destroyed,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

“Hospitals are either in ruins, or overwhelmed. Schools turned into rubble,” Guterres said in a statement upon returning to Abaco on Saturday.

Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 storm, with winds of more than 180 mph, while Humberto is expected to be much weaker, bringing sustained winds of only 40 mph and 4 to 6 inches of rain.

“Rains are the biggest issue right now,” parliament member Iram Lewis told TV station  KTLA. “People are still reeling from the first storm.”

By Sunday, Tropical Storm Humberto is expected is to become a hurricane, though forecasters say it will remain offshore of the eastern U.S., with only 1 to 2 inches of rain expected to hit the coasts of Florida and Georgia.

The Bahamas, which will bear the brunt of Humberto, are still reeling after Hurricane Dorian left at least 50 people dead and 2,500 unaccounted for. The death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue personnel sift through the wreckage.

Roughly 3,900 Bahamians and U.S. citizens have been forced to evacuate the Caribbean archipelago to South Florida amid the fallout from Dorian and Humberto.

"We are a nation in mourning," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said in a statement. "The grief is unbearable following the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian, which has left behind death, destruction and despair on Grand Bahama and Abaco, our second- and third-most populous islands."

Guterres says UN relief workers are still in the Bahamas, providing food, water and shelter to people in Humberto’s path.

“Our hearts go out to all the people of the Bahamas, and the United Nations is right by their side,” he said.

The economic impact of Dorian and, now, of Humberto may be valued at “hundreds of millions, if not billions” of dollars, according to Deputy Prime Minister Kevin Peter Turnquest, with the tourism industry taking a massive hit as travelers avoid the besieged Caribbean country.

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