One year ago, September 1, 2019, tragedy and devastation struck when Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane (some would even say Category 6) made landfall in the northern islands of The Bahamas, mainly Abaco and Grand Bahama. When Dorian struck, it lingered over the beautiful islands of The Bahamas for what seemed like forever (at one point moving at 2 mph), taking aim at everything in its path. After the hurricane passed, death, heartache and tragedy became synonymous with the word Dorian for Bahamians.
As survivors are left to pick up the pieces of their lives, the trauma left by Hurricane Dorian still remains prominent today. Just last month, Tropical Storm Isaias threatened to rummage through the islands of The Bahamas, as it quickly upgraded to a hurricane. While Isaias did not leave much damage, Bahamians couldn’t help but to panic in preparation for Isaias to make landfall. PTSD kicked in for Hurricane Dorian survivors, as they prayed to God not to relive the horrid experience of another devastating hurricane.
A lot has changed for the survivors in the year that has passed, from having to live without loved ones to having to relocate. Nothing can replace what was lost but still, hope remains.
Two survivors of the monster storm took the time to share their story with us.
ABACO SURVIVOR: PRECIOUS BETHEL
Precious is an educator who was teaching in Abaco at Patrick J. Bethel High School before Hurricane Dorian struck. Precious is very active in her community. While in Abaco, she served as an Advisor for the Abaco Youth Empowerment Program and she was a member of her local Toastmasters Club.
REACTION TO HURRICANE DORIAN BEING A CATEGORY 5 STORM
Precious: “At first, everyone was rushing about to complete last minute preparations; the shops were crowded, the water depots were sold out and some left the island. We were filled with anxiety but no one could have been prepared for what was to come. I was quite calm in the beginning, as I was supposedly fully prepared and was staying with my fiance’s family, so I was around persons for the experience.”
EXPERIENCE DURING HURRICANE DORIAN
Precious: “As the winds picked up, I started to become alarmed. Having just found out that I was pregnant a week before, I was quite afraid for my unborn child. I heard debris flying around outside. The walls started to crack, the roof caved in and water filled the house. All we could have done was pray and cry out to God for deliverance and safety. Thank God I had Aliv, so I was able to reach out to family who called a few good Samaritans to rescue us some 9 hours later.
It was easily the most terrifying experience of my life. We went to a shelter where EVERYONE was. Fear and worry was in the air. It was hot, smelly and clustered so I preferred to go back to the caved in roof until we were able to get off of the island.”
Precious: “The saddest thing for me was seeing all of the homes that were compromised and hearing of the lives that were lost, including my student, Jendaya Edgecombe and two young children that I knew. I also saw 5 dead bodies on the side of the street. Sighs.”
LIFE AFTER HURRICANE DORIAN
Precious: “Life has been extremely different since Hurricane Dorian passed. I had to start over from scratch. My fiance’ and I had to relocate as we lost our home and had to find an apartment and car to get from point A to point B. Also, being pregnant was extremely difficult. My biggest difficulty due to Dorian was the fact that I was an asue holder. I have lost over $20,000 after having also lost my home due to persons not paying.
One positive thing that came after Dorian was my greatest blessing, a healthy, beautiful baby girl so I give God thanks.”
After Hurricane Dorian, Precious was nominated for an award at the National Youth Awards.
Grand Bahama Survivor: Edwina Waldron
Edwina is a 26 year old Grand Bahama native who had just come back home from law school when Hurricane Dorian hit.
REACTIONS TO HURRICANE DORIAN BEING A CATEGORY 5 STORM
Edwina: “We were shocked when we found out the hurricane had upgraded to a Category 5 because we had just endured Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and our economy had still yet to recover. Grand Bahamians did their best to heed to evacuation protocols and preparing for the hurricane (grocery shopping, securing homes), because we had an idea of what we were up against and we prepared based on the last hurricane.”
EXPERIENCE DURING HURRICANE DORIAN
Edwina: “My family and I lived on the outskirts of the island, roughly 2 minutes away from the beach, and in close proximity to the Harbour and completely surrounded by water. We were told to evacuate because a surge was expected.
“We moved to higher ground in The Chesapeake area with my uncle and aunt and her children and grand children. As you can imagine, the apartment was packed but we made the best of it in the circumstances. At first, it was all fun telling stories and cracking jokes, watching movies and just spending quality time with family. But it all suddenly changed when the power and water went off. Luckily, we had charged all of our devices and portable chargers, we filled buckets and countless jugs of water. We purchased a portable gas stove and gas cans prior so we were able to have cooked food.
“When the ordeal started, the winds were extremely strong and loud. There was a lot of rain and water settled everywhere. We lost signal on the radio and at one point we were unable to reach anyone. The area I was in began to flood, but luckily it was on a slope. When the water began to rise, the hurricane had already subsided. I was worried about the reports I got from my brother who was a part of the rescue/search team with regard to the amount of people that were in danger, drowned or missing. It definitely hit home when friends and relatives started to reach out for help and there was nothing I could do except call for help and pray that they got the help they needed.”
Edwina: “The saddest thing for me after the hurricane was driving around and seeing the damage that was done and the host of people that were missing or had passed away as a result of the hurricane. It was unbelievable. I have never experienced anything like that in my entire life, nor is it something I want to I re-live. As we were driving, we constantly had to the turn around or make different pathways because some areas were completely flooded. Just looking at the state of the island after nearly 3 years of repairing and gradual recovery traumatized me. I just thought, When will we ever get a break?.
“About 2/3 days after the storm, various organizations gathered to distribute food and clothes, household items and medical supplies to families that were in need. The lines were extremely long and discouraging at times due to having to stand hours to wait for assistance, but we all had no choice. The water was also off for some time so people fetched water from Polymers and used fresh drinking water to bathe, cook or for sanitary purposes. A lot of people did not have vehicles to get the assistance they needed or had signal to reach out for help, so my family and I did our best to drive around and assist families with water and groceries.”
LIFE AFTER THE HURRICANE
Edwina: “The hurricane came about two weekends before I was about to embark on a new journey at Eugene Dupuch Law School in Nassau. As you could imagine there was absolutely no drive or motivation left in me after going through the hurricane. In fact, I opted to start in 2020 instead because I was not in the mental state to start Bar school which was already challenging coupled with mental and now financial instability but with the strength of God and encouragement from family members, I began my law school journey in Nassau.”
Edwina: “I was set to graduate three weeks after the Hurricane (October) with my Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Degree from the University of the West Indies in Barbados. As a result of the Hurricane, none of my family members were able to attend as planned. I felt as though I had no business celebrating my accomplishments in these circumstances, and again, I opted not to go. However, with the support of my family and friends I was encouraged to go alone and celebrate my achievements and I was grateful to still have the opportunity to graduate!”
LESSONS FROM HURRICANE DORIAN
Life is precious, make the most of it.
Never trivialize hurricanes, they are deadly.
Be your brother’s keeper.
There is power in prayer and UNITY!
Hurricane Dorian survivors continue to rebuild their lives. As Lyrically Blessed said, “We’ll be stronger, we’ll be better than ever before after the storm… We will rise again.”
Continue to keep Precious, Edwina and the other hurricane Dorian survivors in your prayers as they continue to deal with the aftermath of the storm.
What inspired you from these ladies’ stories? Let us know in the comments!