By Zach Fagenson
NASSAU (Reuters) – A new storm brought rain and wind to the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas early Friday, with the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) warning it could turn into a tropical storm.
Early Friday, it was a tropical disturbance over the central Bahamas, packing winds of 30 mph (45 kph) and was expected to drop two to four inches of rain through Sunday, the NHC said.
There is an 80 percent chance that it will turn into a stronger tropical depression or even a tropical storm named Humberto in the next day or so as it crawls at 6 mph (9 kph) across the Bahamas and takes aim at Florida, the NHC said.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for Northwestern Bahamas, including the hurricane-hit Abacos and Grand Bahama, the NHC said.
The storm is expected to pick up speed as it moves northwest on Friday and could hit Florida on Saturday, it said.
A tropical storm watch was issued for portions of the coast of east-central Florida late Thursday and South Florida could see tropical-storm-force winds as early as Friday evening, the NHC said.
Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 storm, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record to hit land, packing top sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (298 kph).
The tropical cyclone was not expected to bring anywhere near that level of devastation.
With 1,300 people still missing, according to the Bahamian government, relief services are focused on search and rescue as well as providing food, water and shelter.
Aid groups rushed shelter material to residents living in the shells of former homes.
“We’re seeing plastic tarps go out all over the islands, and that’s extremely important because now you’ve got another tropical storm coming,” said Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs for U.S. relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.
The prime minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis, on Wednesday said the official death toll stood at 50 but that it was expected to rise.
Minnis said there were problems coordinating aid due to the level of devastation and he was trying to remove “bureaucratic roadblocks.”
Former prime minister Hubert Ingraham said he believed “hundreds” were dead on Abaco “and significant numbers on Grand Bahama,” the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.
Officials have erected large tents in Nassau to house those made homeless by Dorian and plan to erect tent cities on Abaco to shelter up to 4,000 people.
(Reporting by Zach Fagenson in Nassau; additional reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Jason Neely)