Kenneth

Abaco

I don’t think there was any possible way to prepare for Dorian adequately.

As the eye came, in a space of about 30 seconds everything just went to hell. We had a hurricane shutter rip off one of our windows. Within 10 seconds of that we had a large piece of lumber come flying through like a missile through that window. Missed me by 4 inches and I was covered in shattered glass. Bleeding everywhere

The wind that was blowing was extremely loud, and it was not even blowing water, it was blowing vapour. There was zero visibility but it was like a mist just whipping past the window.

There really wasn’t any choice or any thought of evacuating—at least for me. And there really wasn’t any call for evacuation. There’s too many people here. It would have been impossible to evacuate this population in the amount of time there was.

We had no phones. No interpret. No power. No food. And there’s only so much you can depend on the government to do for you. It was just something that was so…so biblical. I don’t think any government could prepare for what we went through.

Walking through Abaco afterwards was like walking through the set of The Walking Dead—like walking through a movie set. Familiar landmarks aren’t there anymore. You don’t know what road you’re walking on. It was very surreal.

Immediate concern: security. Our biggest concern was securing where we were to make sure it was safe, preventing any looters, and the lawlessness that was beginning to happen—and it was happening quickly, and then going to find out the status of the rest of the island.

I know some people we were with were really struggling—and continue to struggle with what they saw and what they went through, you know, PTSD. I think there’s still—you can see people are on edge when it rains. People get a little freaked out still. 

NEMA was basically missing-in-action. We didn’t see them here. The Defence Force was here but there were a lot of security issues around that. Right after the storm the first people on the ground in terms of aid were USAID, GER3, Samaritan’s Purse, RUBICON. In terms of anyone from government it took a couple weeks before government made their presence known. 

We need to look seriously at some of the newest building technologies that can help us design and build structures that will withstand or be more resilient tot those kinds of events. But we don’t seem to be doing that, we seem to be doing the same insecure, insufficient things. 

Troy, María & Catalina

Abaco

“If we were to evacuate to Marsh Harbour we would have died.”

“The storm itself was not the problem. It was the aftermath, with new problems sprouting, like unregulated building and no building inspectors on site.”

“Security was a major concern in Abaco after the storm. It was the  Wild, Wild West for some time after the storm.”

“We are not prepared for something like Dorian again. On Abaco there are still a lot of existing vulnerabilities that we have to deal with. On a scale of 1 to 10 we’re about a 2.”

“As bad as Dorian was, we have a great opportunity to show people how small communities can survive a storm like that, but we need organisation and communication to help.”

“I would like to see more mandatory preparation across the country, and have persons who know about this and can lead us on this.”

Milande

Abaco

“We didn’t think we were going survive because we left our house when we thought it was going to collapse and went to stay in our neighbour’s vehicle (a Jeep).”

“I had both of my children in my arms and I can’t swim.”

“I don’t think there was NOTHING that could prepare us for Dorian. We felt like we were in a tsunami. It was like a horror movie.”

“It took almost a year for my son to talk and speak again after Hurricane Dorian.”

“I would love to move back home (Abaco), but there’s a housing issue there right now. I guess the pandemic took precedent with building initiatives.”

“If we have a catastrophe like this again, it would be every man on their own.”

“My biggest fear up to this day is that if we have another catastrophe like this, our country is not ready!”

Shelley

Hope Town, Abaco

“As always when expecting a rage, there was tension in the air but, Abaconians have seen many a storm and know how to prepare.”

“My daughter, who lives in Nassau,  begged me to leave and I stubbornly refused.  After all, I had seen many hurricanes in my life.  This one, however, was a monster.”

“I don’t think anyone who was not in Abaco the day after that storm could ever understand the devastation.  It was horrendous.”

Samantha

Hope Town, Abaco

The hurricane windows started to leak water at the bottom (not a good sign, I remember thinking) and we put towels along the bottom to soak up the water. The wind was incredibly loud. Whistling.”

Through all that wind and rain we had no idea what devastation was going on around us.”

We had a view above of the mayhem. Swirling debris, large pieces of wood and metal, air conditioning ducting, you name it. Plus biblical rain pouring in the hatch. We were soon in a foot or more of water.”

Anonymous

Abaco

“Sleepless night. Nightmares for about 2 months. Any little rain we would have would be like living it all over again. Financially it was rough because our savings were zapped.”

“We need to change our building codes. Where we would have hurricanes that would just have wind or rain, now we are experiencing tornadoes. We’ve never experienced tornadoes before. Building codes need to change.”

Hopia

Abaco

“If that hurricane had happened to any island I would be sorry for them because a lot of structures aren’t prepared.”

“Everybody was in the same situation. So it wasn’t as if any other help from  neighbours or  friends could–they couldn’t help anybody.”

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