Searching for a way out

Searching for a way out

Droves of residents seek to leave GB, others resolved to stay

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA — Traumatized, exhausted and with nowhere to go after being displaced by Hurricane Dorian, which pummeled Abaco and Grand Bahama two weeks ago, droves of Grand Bahamians were trying to find a way to leave the island and the devastation dealt to their communities behind.

Cecilia Bodie, a crisis counselor and trained responder, who evacuated her home ahead of the storm returned to find a gutted structure with only the roof and supporting beams intact — appearing as if still under construction.

Several feet of debris and seaweed covered the floor — evidence of the flood waters that rushed into the home during the peak of the storm.

“We are alive,” she told Eyewitness News. “I am just saddened by the number of causalities that I am hearing. My heart breaks for Abaco. I don’t know what is going to happen in Grand Bahama. I know that I am leaving. I won’t leave today, but I will be leaving. I know that because there is very little left and it’s just sad.

“To tell you the truth, in my heart reality has not set in yet. I’m still in shock. I know that, so I am giving myself a chance and that’s why I am saying by next week I am gone. I don’t need to see this destruction anymore. And so, I have two little grandchildren — an 18-month-old and seven-year-old — who we’re trying to get them out now.”

As Eyewitness News arrived on the island Friday morning, the roads to the Freeport Harbour were lined with residents, many of whom said they did not know the way forward, but “had to get out”.

When asked how she has managed to get since Dorian, Bodie said she “learnt to let go; let go of material things and trust in my God”.

“I am prepared to start over. I am retired. I have no job. I will do well I know that. I have family that have rallied around me. I have people from Canada straight down to Texas who are connecting me…,” she said.

Dorian, a record Category 5 storm with sea surges of over 20 feet and over 185 mile-per-hour winds, made landfall in Abacos around midday September 1. The raging storm stalled over Grand Bahama Monday and did not relent until Tuesday night, causing “unimaginable”, widespread destruction on both islands.

As of Monday, authorities confirmed the official death toll from the devastating storm had climbed to 51 — 43 recorded in Abaco and eight in Grand Bahama.

Those figures are expected to substantially increase as many remain missing.

Bodie was among dozens of residents in the area rescued by Grand Bahamians who went out into the storm to search for those trapped and in need of help, transporting them to shelters.

“Everybody has heard of them, but the rescue workers on this island still give me chills — they are phenomenal,” said the retiree. “I went outside thinking it was my friend’s neighbor, but it was young men like yourself driving around in their trucks picking up people and I said to him ‘don’t leave me. I have two grandchildren and I need to get them out’. He said ‘miss. We came to get ya’ll out’.”