Bahamas – Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Dorian began a savage path of destruction that obliterated most of the Northern Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian decimated the Abaco Islands and East Grand Bahama. An estimated “70 percent of GBI was underwater and in some areas the storm surge reached between 20-25 Ft“. A further 3 Ft of rain poured on top of that.

Sustained winds were “185 MPH with gusts to 220 MPH” (equivalent to a tornado). Dorian was a “12 miles wide” unprecedented Category 5 – the strongest hurricane to ever hit The Bahamas and one of the strongest in Atlantic history. For hours it crawled at 1 MPH. The average person strolls at 3 MPH just to put that into perspective.

NOAA should really consider an additional category on the scale as this bitch was in a deadly class of its own. The tsunami-like surge, the tornado force winds, and the torrential rains have left an estimated “70,000 homeless” and thousands of people missing. The death toll sits at 50, but that number will sadly rise.

Immediately After the Storm

Rescue efforts commenced before it was safe to be outdoors. Bahamians took to the pillaged streets and canals by jet skis/boats to save their neighbors, friends, and strangers.  These selfless heroes saved hundreds of lives.

Many residents were forced to take refuge in their attics for hours and even days as the storm surge flooded and destroyed their homes.

One rescued (displaced) family was brought to my home for shelter. They were trapped in their attic for 24 hours with their 6-year-old daughter, and 5 dogs.  Not sure if the roof would hold – they made goodbye videos on their phones.

Outside help could not be mobilized for hours and in some cases days as the airport was underwater and the harbor was damaged. I am beyond grateful for these local heroes.

Grand Bahama - Dorian
Heroes/ Photo Credit: Freeport News

Heart Breaking Loss

Hundreds of harrowing stories have emerged in the wake of Dorian.

  • Howard Armstrong, a crab fisherman, watched his wife, Lynn, succumb to hypothermia and drown.
  • An Abaco man was circled by sharks before losing grip of his 5-year-old son in a storm surge.
  • Ol Freetown Farms lost their farmhand, Kenel, and most of their animals. Including their dogs and horses. Through the storm, their 84-year-old Mother was tied to the rafters.
  • A blind man carried his disabled adult son to safety after his house became uninhabitable.
  • A man from East GBI drowned with his three children while trying to bring them to safety
  • All my friends in Abaco were forced to flee mid storm as their homes disintegrated around them.
  • A Freeport friend lost her home and her dog. The dog was being sheltered at The Humane Society where “half of the 190 dogs died”.
  • Another FPO friend fled her home with two elderly women. One lady broke her hip during their evacuation & was days before getting airlifted.
Abaco - post Dorian
My Friend’s home in Abaco – they evacuated mid storm as the house disintegrated around them.

The Damage

The Bahamian Government has called Dorian a “generational disaster”. The damage is estimated at “5 Billion”, which might be conservative as the damage assessment is far from complete.

Although the storm hovered over Grand Bahama longer – parts of Abaco took a tougher blow. Most of the buildings were leveled.  Freeport’s infrastructure did better. Possibly because it is more developed and the buildings are constructed of concrete blocks. However, this only means that more homes and buildings are standing. Most are uninhabitable due to the vast flooding.

Most of Marsh Harbour has been destroyed.  Haitian shantytowns are known as “The Mud” & “Pigeon Peas” still have unrecovered bodies buried in the rubble. Many of these people are undocumented and I fear they won’t be counted in the “official” numbers.

On Grand Bahama, the UN estimates through satellite data “that 76-100 percent of the eastern towns of High Rock, Deep Water Cay, and Macleans Town have been destroyed”.

More Bad News

There is oil leaking into the Atlantic Ocean. One report stated the oil has reached: “as far as 50 miles into the sea”.  Equinor, a Norwegian based company, located on Grand Bahama Island has said they’ll clean up the mess from their leaking silos.  Yet there has been very little press coverage on this aspect of the storm and what it means for the coral reefs and the aquatic wildlife.

Equinor - oil spill - Grand Bahama
Oil linking into the ocean

Good News

Relief and aid are arriving.

The US Coast Guard, the US Air Force, the British Navy, the Canadian Military, a Dutch Task Force, and the Royal Bahamian Defense Force are on the “ground”. China and several other nations have sent monetary aid.

Celebrities like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Tiger Woods, and Lenny Kravitz who have ties to The Bahamas are lending their support.

Major cruise lines are lending boats and monetary aid.

World Central Kitchen is feeding as many as 20,000 residents a day.

Samaritan’s Purse has set up a field hospital as The Rand Memorial is closed.

A large amount of aid and relief is being coordinated through ad hoc volunteers. It’s mostly volunteers from nonprofits that are coordinating and distributing food, water, and medicine. The few residents unaffected by the storm are moving heaven and earth to help their Island Brothers and Sisters.

What I Know

Bahamians are resilient by nature. They’re also blessed with an inherent sense of community. Some of the finest humans I know call The Bahamas home. Their paradise will not remain lost if they get Help.

Please, I beg you, help the Bahamian people in their desperate hour. No amount is too big or too small.

Many have been left with absolutely nothing. “Thousands” are living in shelters. Most of the schools are closed. The Children’s Home in Freeport is uninhabitable – all 32 children were evacuated. The hospital is closed.

These are dire times indeed. My friends in the Bahamas are shell shocked and still running on post-storm adrenaline. They’re exhausted and a little bit broken. But they will bounce back with a little help from all of us.

My beautiful friend Christine helping out with WCK.
Photo credit @lyndahwellsphotography.
Lyndah is a friend and resident of GBI. For more images go to her FB Page – Lyndah Wells Photography


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Thanks for reading. 

Love, Kate. x

7 thoughts on “Bahamas – Paradise Lost

  1. Well summarised Kate Difficult to be so far away from our beloved Bahamas and watch them go through so much from afar. So grateful for everything we still have but so sad for all the loss. In Italy Dorian is old news but for me it’s still so raw, I’m going through the motions on autopilot with my thoughts on the other side of the world. Love your blog xx

  2. Well written! Such a tragedy – but I am hopeful that humankind will step up to the plate again and help out!

    1. Thank you Lisa! I’m also hopeful. The support so far has been impressive. But there is still much work to be done. x

  3. Thank you so much for your overview of what has happened for outsiders. I have 2 dear friends in Freeport who have been helping out and it is so good to see the big picture!
    Love you!

  4. Kate, what a fantastic blog. And, this piece on Dorian is perfect. So glad to find you and family again. Take care, love to all.

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