‘Extremely Heartbreaking’ And ‘Devastating’

September 6, 2019

[Written by Don Burgess]

Water from Hurricane Dorian is receding, but the full amount of devastation to The Bahamas is yet to be counted.

The death toll is now at 30, and officials said that could increase as the search effort continues. Nearly half the people on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama are without homes. The hurricane brought 30 inches of rain and up to 23 feet of storm surge.

Bermudians with Bahamian connections are utterly shocked at how destructive Hurricane Dorian was to the islands.

Lawyer Simone Smith-Bean, who is married to former Opposition Leader Marc Bean, was born in the Bahamas and her family was severely affected by the destructiveness of this Cat 5 hurricane. Her family owns a TV station as well as Radio Abaco and a pizza parlour.

“They were affected by the hurricane greatly and had to flee to their church,” she said. “They have been at the church since Saturday, hoping to be rescued. They lost everything. On Saturday, while the hurricane was bearing down, their home was overtaken by 10 feet of water, so they were forced to leave their house and seek higher ground.”

She says one of the family members is in a home with 30 other people, also waiting to be rescued.

“This is extremely heartbreaking, especially when I see the calls of people who are asking to be rescued from their homes, and they are stuck on their roof, and their children are crying. There is hunger and despair, and they do not know if they will get out.”

She said that is the reality for thousands of people. Besides, Ms Smith-Bean noted there are thousands of homes and businesses that have been washed away. She added a lot of the places she had fond memories of are now gone.

“But we are a resilient people, but it will be a long time before Abaco comes back online. Not only did a person lose their house, but they also lost their job, so there is no place for you to go to work; there is no place for you to go to school. There is going to be a lot of soul searching, a lot of displacement of people as to where they want to live now.”

Slideshow of photos showing some of the devastation in the Bahamas

Embed from Getty Images

Guilden Gilbert, who lives in Nassau, said, “I haven’t been able to reach some family members, so there is a little bit of concern. A lot of people are still missing.”

He figures that even though the death count is at 20, it is going to be substantially higher than that.

Mr Gilbert added, “The cleanup effort is going to be absolutely massive.” He said Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said 60% of the home in Abaco were destroyed or severely damaged while 45% of the homes in Grand Bahama were in the same useless condition. “This is going to be a huge recovery effort.

Mr Gilbert said, “it was devastating” to see those first photos after Hurricane Dorian had moved on. “I have spent quite a bit of time in both Abaco and Grand Bahama…and to see that level of destruction was disheartening, to say the least.”

He said international efforts of help from the US Coast Guard and a British ship to help rescue people have been appreciated.

Ms. Smith-Bean said Bermudians who want to help can do so by donating to The We Care Project. Items that can be given include first aid kits, gloves, socks, and unused toiletries which will be taken to The Bahamas on September 19. Those items can be dropped off at Smith-Bean & Co’s office at Melbourne House, which is located at the corners of Parliament and Victoria Streets.

They can also contribute funds to the We Care Project’s account at the Bank of Butterfield. The account number is 0601 6405 20014.

Locals who wish to donate to help The Bahamas can also do so via the Bermuda Red Cross, which launched an appeal to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

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  1. Double S says:

    The damage is horrifying. Prayers to all that have been affected by Dorian and here’s to hoping that they get all the assistance required.