UNPREPARED AND ANXIOUS: Some Abaconians will leave at the first sign of a hurricane

UNPREPARED AND ANXIOUS: Some Abaconians will leave at the first sign of a hurricane
An aerial shot of Abaco post-Hurricane Dorian.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As Abaco trudges along the road to recovery nearly two years after Hurricane Dorian, several Abaconians expressed anxiety about the upcoming hurricane season, telling Eyewitness News the whisper of another serious storm would prompt them to leave.

Dorian, which descended on the island in September 2019, remains fresh in the minds of residents.

Catherine McIntosh, a resident of Dundas Town, lost her home, her rental apartment and the vehicle she used to operate tours during the record storm.

Catherine McIntosh, a resident of Dundas Town.

When the roof of her home was torn off by the 185 mile-per-hour winds of the storm, she and her family were forced to make a run to their neighbors’ home, though that structure saw its “windows explode”.

“We still have our fears. We are hoping to God that he would not allow any storms to come because we are still not prepared,” she said.

“We’re still not ready and we’re hoping that whatever we put in place, you know, that we don’t have to lose it.

“A lot of people are still not in their homes or don’t have electricity or what have you.

“Now, we’re just starting to experience where tourists are coming in and we’re getting to make a little money, but you don’t want to lose that during another hurricane.”

McIntosh decried increased costs of food and hardware on the island.

She said she has yet to rebuild her main home but has rebuilt her apartment, where she now lives.

“If I ever hear another hurricane coming here, sir, and I believe a whole lot of people, I would get off this island. I wouldn’t be looking around at nothing…”

Asked if she was prepared to start over again, McIntosh said: “No; I am trying not to go there.”

Camille Lowe, a resident of South Abaco.

Camille Lowe, a resident of South Abaco who was preparing for the upcoming hurricane season with a “sense of urgency”, said she doesn’t believe anyone should remain on the Abaco cays after Dorian.

“Personally, I don’t think anyone should stay on the cays,” she said.

“I am really worried and trying to prepare as best as we can.

“I can’t imagine another storm coming through as the last one we had.

“It’s a tough feeling, a bad feeling, but hopefully it is better this year.

“We just had a few more shutters to put up, to build, and we’re doing that now.”

Both of her brothers lost their homes.

Her aunt and uncle, who continue to rebuild their home on Guana Cay, lost everything they owned during the storm.

“They’re getting there as best they can,” Lowe said.

“It is basically, to sum it up, fearful” — Latisha Woods.

Latisha Woods, a mother of three who vividly recalled running for her life with her children as the storm threatened her home, said she remains fearful of the smallest weather system impacting Abaco.

While she has since largely repaired the home, she said she doesn’t know if it can withstand another Category 2 or Category 3 storm, let alone a Category 5.

“It has been fearful, to be honest,” she told Eyewitness News.

“Anytime little storm that comes through, you still feel like there [is] a possibility of another storm.

“It is basically, to sum it up, fearful. I don’t think I will ever get over it — the trauma of Dorian.”

Asked if she would remain on the island if another hurricane approached, Woods said: “Definitely not. I wouldn’t put my family back through that again.  If there is enough time for me to get out of the island, to even leave the country, I would do that.”

Marcos Davis, a resident of Crossing Rock.

Meanwhile, Marcos Davis, a resident of Crossing Rock, said he doesn’t feel the island is prepared for another hurricane season.

However, he said he has no intention of leaving his home if another hurricane strikes the island.

“It’s only been almost two years,” Davis said.

“I feel like something else supposed to be there, some kind of shelter aside from Marsh Harbour, on a nice solid piece of land with not much swamp, where people could go there and if anything comes, they could go inside and be OK.

“But for right now, from what I know and what I see, they really are not prepared. A lot of houses still got blue tarp on it. Those people can’t stay in there if another hurricane comes.”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.