Resilient Grand Bahamians hurt, but recovering

Resilient Grand Bahamians hurt, but recovering

Russell, 62, awoke to floodwater in his home

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — Standing in front of his debris-strewn property with tools in his hands, Carlton Russell, 62, wiped sweat away from his face before returning beneath the hood of his car, tinkering with the engine that would not start after floodwaters breached the vehicle more than three weeks ago.

Russell has remained on the island since Hurricane Dorian, determined to recover and rebuild.

He did not evacuate ahead of the storm. He sat atop several draws stacked on his kitchen cabinet and floodwaters rose in the home.

When asked why he has chosen to remain on the islands, Russell said, “I have to stay right here. My life is here. I am working here. I work security for Candidate Security. It’s rough on me to get to work; I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I am not going anywhere.”

Asked how his life has changed, Russell considerations were more immediate.

“There’s not much water to wash and rinse clothes,” he responded. “I have drinking water and my sister brings me plates of food. You know my car went under. I’m trying to get it [started] up. I know how to clean it out, change the oil, blow the water out, so we’ll see.”

As Dorian lashed his home with over 200 mile per hour winds on September 2, Russell awoke. His first step out of bed was a confused one as his lower body plunged into several feet of water. Dazed and unsure what to do, he waded through the murky water into the kitchen, and stacked several drawers on the counter before sitting on them for hours in the one-story home. Despite the rage of the storm, which leveled communities in Grand Bahama and Abaco, Russell said he tried to remain calm.

“When I woke up the tide was ‘done’ high,” he said casually. “I was sleeping. The tide was all the way up there. I was in the bedroom. When I came out the bed to use the bathroom, I walked in the water. I knew the water had reached. I really didn’t know it would be that high. I put some furniture together in the kitchen; put them on the counter, and put the little drawers together and sat on them. The water didn’t come up over that. If the water had come up to the ceiling, it would have been a different situation.”

Russell was among numerous of Grand Bahamians who have remained on the island determined to piece their lives together, despite the devastating blow dealt to the island, it’s communities and people.