MARSH HABOUR, ABACO — “People living without no purpose right now,” said Timothy Rolle as he stood on the outskirts of The Mudd.
The father-of-five had recently returned to Marsh Harbour, Abaco after surviving Hurricane Dorian in the shantytown, and evacuating to New Providence.
His children left the shantytown ahead of the storm to be with their mother, but had to eventually turn to a “government facility”.
Rolle sought shelter at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium with hundreds of others following the Category 5 storm, but as the sole provider for his children — aged nine, 10, 12 and 15 — he made the decision to return to storm-ravaged island in hopes of finding work in construction during the recovery effort.
He told Eyewitness News Online there is little movement in rebuilding efforts, as manpower on the island appears to be dedicated to clearing what remains of the shantytowns.
“I just recently come back and it looks as if nothing changed, and there is no hope,” said Rolle as he looked out over the debris-littered area where hundreds of makeshift homes once stood.
Last Friday, workmen erected poles around the perimeter to fence the area.
Tractors hauled debris in large piles, though portions of the area remained untouched.
The government issued contracts for the cleanup of shantytowns in Abaco on September 27.
Rolle said: “We still don’t have a school. We still don’t have power. We still have no place to live. Nothing changed within [a month] of the storm and I feel as if all the manpower the government… is using to clean The Mudd.
“I think it could be used to build schools and try to get the power going, so people could come back because people are living where they have never lived before (in New Providence). Life is hard there.
“Plenty people would like to come home, but if the government insist on only worrying about The Mudd…instead of trying to help people with their roof; try to accommodate people with some place to live; how do you expect us to live like this?”
Rolle continued: “How you expect us to come back? Come back to what? People living without no purpose right now. Do you understand what I am saying? It’s like you are just living right, but you don’t know what you are living for. That’s my issue right there. All this manpower could have been used to at least get the schools together; get power in the place.”
Rolle, a fisherman and self-described jack of all trades, said he is accustomed to independence and self-sufficiency. He underscored the weight of his responsibility as his children’s sole provider.
“I am the only provider they got and right now I am living without a purpose,” he said.
“I can’t even take care of myself, so judge taking care of family, you understand? …All my life I never really asked the government really for nothing; social services, none of these things I’ve never been before. I am an independent man; you understand what I am saying? It is very
difficult. Instead of you saying, you are going to find a way to bring the people home, cleaning The Mudd… that can’t really help what’s going on.”
Rolle remained in The Mudd during the storm, unwilling to abandon his home despite the evacuation warnings from the government.
As floodwaters rose to his ceiling, he climbed on top of the roof. However, the water eventually covered the entire structure forcing him to swim to higher ground.
“The water was over all the buildings and every building was completely underwater,” he said.
“Within six hours everything I owned was gone. Six hours of the storm, everything I owned — my cars, my house, everything I ever owned, which I worked all my life for — was gone. And then, the storm is over and it’s like a bigger storm because nobody really is assisting you.”
Rolle said: “You are not finding [any] assistance. Everybody sitting back and waiting on the government and the government is dragging its feet because he (the prime minister) wasn’t in this position. I wish he did spend two to three hours in the storm with me and then he would feel
my pain. I am lucky to have my life.”
He added: “I wouldn’t even stay to face another tropical storm. Right now, a tropical storm could really bring me to a nervous breakdown. This is a lifetime scar. I don’t care how long it’s been. Until you lose your life, you’ll remember this.”
Rolle said as a Bahamian he feels abandoned. He has been sharing a small home with a friend in Marsh Harbour.
The roof was torn off during the storm. A tarp is all that separates them from the elements.
As it relates to the thousands displaced, particularly those who resided in The Mudd, Rolle asked: “Where do you expect them to go?”
“The people need help man; you understand what I’m saying?” Rolle added.
“…I understand the people can’t live there (The Mudd) or build there,
but it’s other things that are more necessary than that.”