Salathiel McBride showing how high the floodwaters reached in his house. (Picture by Anmar Goodridge-Boyce.)
The battered islands in The Bahamas are fighting earnestly to get back to normalcy, but the road to recovery will not be an easy one.
Some residents estimate it will take years before Grand Bahama and The Abaco Islands can regain full function in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Before the Category 5 hurricane made a direct hit, over 80 000 people lived on the sister islands, but that number has dropped significantly.
The official death toll of 50 is expected to rise in the coming days, as police and soldiers continue to search for bodies.
In Freeport, the sight was horrific. Forty-foot containers and fishing boats were tossed onto the main roads, while the scent of death – humans and animals – filled the air.
Those who survived were busy trying to buy basic necessities.
The entire island of Grand Bahama is still without power and water, with no answers as to when they will be restored.
But residents like Salathiel McBride are trying to pick up the pieces.
“We can just get together and work and rebuild as a family,” he said during an interview in front of his damaged home.
“We need to start the rebuilding as one. It will be rough, but all we can do is trust in God and things will be good.
“We have to start from scratch. The good thing for me is that I have a foundation; a lot of people don’t even have that.”
McBride, who lives in Chipping Hill, said he encountered four-feet-high surges in his home.
“We had to evacuate. All of my neighbours, we got together and worked as a team and tried to get everybody on the road we saw to safety.
“It was devastation; it is the worst I have seen in my life. I am sorry for all the lives lost,” he said sadly.
Parts of Salathiel McBride’s home and his cars were damaged by Hurricane Dorian. (Picture by Anmar Goodridge-Boyce.)
“The water was coming so fast, I told my family to get their passports and everything and get out. I had to put my 91-year-old father-in-law in our fridge in order to survive. When I got to the door, the water was waist-height.
“I put my family into the Defence Force bus. I got the women and children out of harm’s way, but we had to go through loads of water to get to safety,” the 45-year-old told THE NATION.
Also attempting to rebuild his home was retired boat owner Shebo John. His three vessels were tossed out to sea by the high waters and winds.
“We have no choice but to start fresh. I have lost everything in this hurricane. I have no car, no houses, no more boats and these are my only clothes, but I am willing to start going again. I know it will not be easy, but I am prepared,” he said.
“The inside of my house is badly damaged but I already started to see how I can try to fix it, because that is all I can do at this point.”
The lines for those seeking food and petrol were extremely long.
“Since the storm passed it has been total chaos. We use to be open 24 hours day but now we work 8 to 5. Everybody needs gas to move around and to cook,” said managing director of Municipal Motors gas station, Robert Glad.
His establishment in Downtown Freeport was one of the few service stations still working after the hurricane.
Glad said his main priority was to service the community as well as having his staff members’ interest at heart.
“I made a decision to close before sunset so staff can get home before the light goes. It is not easy, but most of the customers understand and cooperate with us.
“We were able to open on Wednesday morning after Dorian left, but most of my staff have lost their homes,” he added. (AGB)