NASSAU, BAHAMAS (CBSMiami) – Hurricane Irene has left the Bahamas, and Friday morning, tourists stranded by the storm are leaving after Nassau’s airport and seaport reopened. Now, the job of assessing the damage left behind has begun.
Across the island chain, there were no immediate reports of major injuries or deaths but property damage appeared likely to be extensive. Acklins and Crooked islands, in the southern part of the chain, got hit particularly hard, with an estimated 90 percent of the homes in two settlements severely damaged or destroyed, said Capt. Stephen Russell, director of the country’s National Emergency Management Agency.READ MORE: New FBI report finds active shooter attacks on the rise
Russell said he was getting “disturbing reports” from the two islands, each of which has a population of several hundred, but that he was not yet able to get a full assessment.
The Bahamian government said Friday it will begin flights to the islands making up the Bahamas, with special attention paid to those islands out of communication, like Cat island, which was directly in the path of the storm.
The flights are intended to help the government determine what aid will be needed.
CBS4’s Kara Kostanich flew over Abaco Island and Eleuthera Friday afternoon, and reported just minor damage visible from the air..READ MORE: MDPD: Miami Beach Senior High Teacher Arrested For Engaging In Child Pornography
In Nassau and Freeport, on the most populated of the Bahamian islands, there were widespread reports of roof damage, trees down, and power outages, but no notable serious damage. Some damage was seen at the popular Nassau Straw Market on Bay street, where roofing material was pulled away by the storm.
Power restoration efforts were underway Friday. Some power stations were shut down in advance of the storm and should be restored Friday, while other crews fanned out across the islands to work on downed lanes and poles.
The seaport, where as many as half-a-dozen cruise ships can call in a day, sustained little damage and reopened Friday morning with the arrival of a Disney cruise ship. The port in Freeport also opened Friday.
The international airport in Nassau, closed by high winds, was allowed to resume operations Friday morning, allowing tourists caught when the airport closed to attempt a return home. The airport in Freeport will remain closed until Saturday.
Government offices and banks remained closed Friday, but the Bahamian government said both would re-open Monday. Other businesses were expected to re-open Saturday.MORE NEWS: Texas school shooting once again raising safety concerns across South Florida
The Nassau Guardian reported the Ministry of Education would make announcements regarding the re-opening of public schools.