MIAMI: Tropical Storm Humberto lashed the Bahamas with rain and wind on Saturday, possibly slowing down relief efforts in the wake of the devastation wrought less than two weeks ago by Hurricane Dorian.

The US National Hurricane Centre said the centre of the storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, was passing about 30 miles to the east of Great Abaco Island, one of the areas hardest hit by Dorian.

In the morning, the storm was “nearly stationary,” US meteorologists said.

About two to four inches (five to 10 centimetres) of rain were expected in most areas, with isolated flooding in low-lying areas, the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) cautioned.

“Significant storm surge is not expected in the northwestern Bahamas from this system,” the Miami-based NHC said, however — good news for residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama still trying to get back on track after Dorian swept through early this month.

“I know this is not something people in Abaco and Grand Bahama would like to hear at this time, but it’s out there and the storm will bring heavy downpours over the Bahama islands,” Shavon Bonimy, senior meteorologist in Grand Bahama, told The Nassau Guardian.

“So we have to be prepared.” NEMA spokesman Carl Smith told reporters on Friday that the storm would likely “slow down logistics” of relief efforts, but added: “We have contingency plans in place.” “Fuel and water remain the biggest needs in Abaco,” Smith said.

So far, the death toll from monster storm Dorian is at 52, but officials say that number is likely to go up. About 1,300 people are still unaccounted for, but Smith said officials are working to cross-reference new data and locate the missing.

Former Bahamian prime minister Hubert Ingraham said earlier this week he feared the final death toll could be in the hundreds.

Humberto is expected to strengthen into a hurricane late Sunday, the NHC said, but by then it will be clear of the Bahamas and well off the coast of Florida, and it is not expected to have a major impact on the US. “The chance of heavy rainfall affecting the southeastern United States has diminished,” the NHC said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has been visiting the Bahamas, said Dorian demonstrated the need to address climate change.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2019