Devastation and Rebuilding in the Bahamas After Hurricane Dorian

Even among the ruins, some are refusing to give up on their home

uatv
08.09.2019
Photo UNICEF/PA via AP

 

Marsh Harbour on Abaco Island in the Bahamas was at the epicenter of Hurricane Dorian when it made landfall as the strongest hurricane to hit the island nation in recorded history.

The category 5 storm hit with windspeeds of over 200mph/320kph, storm surge of up to 25 feet/7.6 meters and rainfall that reached 30 inches/76 centimeters. Facing all that, the small town did not stand much of a chance. To compound the misery, the massive storm stalled for two days over the island of Grand Bahamas just to the west leading to longer sustained winds, rain and storm surge.

The death toll has reached 35 on Abaco Island and 8 on Grand Bahamas but government officials have still not reached many parts of the islands due to standing water, downed trees and debris.

Photo AP/Fernando Llano

 

The US Coast Guard said it has rescued a total of 290 people in the northern Bahamas following the hurricane. Six MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and nine cutters are helping in the rescue operations.

Humanitarian aid from the United Nations is on its way to those most in need.

The UN said eight tons of food supplies were on the way by ship. Some 14,700 ready-to-eat meals as well as logistical and telecommunications equipment are being delivered, said Herve Verhoosel, spokesperson for the UN World Food Program, reports AP.

In spite of this devastation, some on the island are already working to rebuild their homes and business. Others, however, have left and may never return having lost everything in the storm.

The AP reports on builder Jackson Blatch and how he built his home to withstand storms. He and his son-in-law were already rebuilding.

Photo AP/Fernando Llano

 

Unlike almost every other home on Abaco Island, Blatch’s house had little damage. He is a builder who prides himself on quality work. When mixing concrete, he never skimps, always precisely blending the recommended amounts of cement, sand and gravel for floors, columns and ceilings.

When he poured his walls and floors, he laced them thick with rebar, constructing a powerful skeleton that resisted the storm.

Instead of using the manufacturer-provided clips on his hurricane shutters, he used long screws on as many as possible to fix the shutters tight to the window frame.

When Dorian hit, it only managed to rip away the shutters with store-bought clips, and a few sections of shingles, leaving some of the Blatch family’s possessions wet but the structure and furnishings intact.

Blatch has said that people have told him to leave but he has nowhere else to go. Besides, his home is paid for in full and he would lose his investment if he were to just walk away.

Photo AP/Gonzalo Gaudenzi

 

Another local resident, Brian Russell, 55, is a marine engineer who has lived through three hurricanes on sea and many others on land.

In his home in the Dundas Town neighborhood of Marsh Harbour, he has six months of drinking water and four months of water for bathing. He has a generator, and months of food, AP reports.

Once the water contaminated by the storm is clean, Russell said, he can live on fishing and gardening. His little garden of onion, tomato and banana plants was destroyed, but he plans to replant, and even add soursop, mango and sugar apple.

The resilience of some other locals is strong while others just feel they have no other option but to stay.

Sterling McKenzie, a 67-year-old retired equipment operator, is living in his sister’s house with other relatives whose homes were destroyed. They are surviving on water and food donated by Bahamian officials and aid workers who pass by daily.

“We might as well stay here and battle it out. I ain’t got no choice,” AP quotes him as saying.

Source The Associated Press
date 08.09.2019
categories World
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