cloudy.png
Wednesday September 18th, 2019 1:57PM

Silence, devastation mark Bahamas town; but some are staying

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (AP) — The streets are filled with smashed cars, snapped power cables, shattered trees and deep silence.

At the airport and dock, hundreds of people clamor for seats on airplanes and berths on ships arriving with aid and departing with people who lost their homes when deadly Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas.

Nearly a week after disaster roared in from the sea, the rest of Marsh Harbour on Abaco island felt empty Saturday. A hot wind whistled through stands of decapitated pine trees and homes that collapsed during the most powerful hurricane in the northwestern Bahamas' recorded history.

Rescue teams were still trying to reach some Bahamian communities isolated by floodwaters and debris after the disaster that killed at least 44 people, most of them on Abaco Island.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it has rescued a total of 290 people in the northern Bahamas following the hurricane. Six MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and nine cutters are helping in the aid effort, the Coast Guard said.

With so much air traffic, Bahamaian officials banned non-aid flights over Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands. The National Emergency Management agency also threatened to revoke flight permission from any pilots charging fees to evacuate people from the islands.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said eight tons of food supplies were on the way by ship. Some 14,700 ready-to-eat meals as well as logistical and telecommunications equipment are being delivered, said Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program.

"The needs remain enormous," Verhoosel said.

No official figures were available, but much of the population of Marsh Harbour, home to most of the roughly 20,000 residents of Abaco, seemed to have already left. Many were staying with relatives in the capital, Nassau, others with family in Florida and other parts of the United States.

In Marsh Harbour's Murphy Town neighborhood, on a hill overlooking the azure sea, Jackson Blatch and his son-in-law were already rebuilding. In a blazing midday sun they stripped damaged shingles from Blatch's roofs and tossed them into his truck, parked below the eaves of a home he built by hand.

Like a few other Abaco residents, Blatch is staying on an island pulverized by nature.

"Everybody says, 'Leave.' Leave and go where?" Blatch asked. "My plan is to rebuild this island. I have a lot to offer."

Unlike almost every other home on Abaco, Blatch's house had little damage. He is a builder who prides himself on quality work. When mixing concrete, he never skimps, always precisely blending the recommended amounts of cement, sand and gravel for floors, columns and ceilings.

When he poured his walls and floors, he laced them thick with rebar, constructing a powerful skeleton that resisted the storm.

Instead of using the manufacturer-provided clips on his hurricane shutters, he used long screws on as many as possible to fix the shutters tight to the window frame.

When Dorian hit, it only managed to rip away the shutters with store-bought clips, and a few sections of shingles, leaving some of the Blatch family's possessions wet but the structure and furnishings intact.

So Blatch has power from a generator, drinking water, food and the help of his son-in-law, 25-year-old Moses Monestine.

"I don't have a mortgage. I don't want to go to Nassau," he said. "I don't want to go to the United States. I don't want to depend on anyone."

Abacoans, as island residents are known, describe themselves as a self-sufficient and resourceful, used to making their living from the sea. Blocks and even entire neighborhoods are taken up by extended families — a cousin next door to a brother next door to a sister-in-law, forming instant support networks that went into action ahead of the storm.

Many Abacoans work on ships or docks, others at the second homes that wealthy Americans have built throughout the long, curving island.

Brian Russell, 55, is a marine engineer who has lived through three hurricanes on sea and many others on land.

In his home in the Dundas Town neighborhood, he has six months of drinking water and four months of water for bathing. He has a generator, and months of food.

The destruction doesn't deter him.

"I've been around a long time," he said. "It doesn't bother me. Anywhere you go, life is what you make of it."

Once the water contaminated by the storm is clean, Russell said, he can live on fishing and gardening. His little garden of onion, tomato and banana plants was destroyed, but he plans to replant, and even add soursop, mango and sugar apple.

Others were more stuck than determined.

Sterling McKenzie, a 67-year-old retired equipment operator, is living in his sister's house with other relatives whose homes were destroyed. They are surviving on water and food donated by Bahamian officials and aid workers who pass by daily.

"We might as well stay here and battle it out," he said. "I ain't got no choice."

___

For more of AP's coverage of Hurricane Dorian, go to: https://apnews.com/Hurricanes

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Online - Georgia News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Silence, devastation mark Bahamas town; but some are staying
After hurricane, some in smashed Bahamas community are determined to stay
12:00AM ( 3 minutes ago )
The Latest: Widespread blackouts as Dorian continues march
Weather officials say Dorian is tearing across the Canadian Maritimes and has left about half a million customers without power
11:05PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Dorian topples crane, knocks out power in eastern Canada
Dorian turns north and begins lashing parts of eastern Canada
11:05PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Ocracoke ferries limited to authorized personnel
Ferry service is returning to North Carolina's Ocracoke Island, but for now the vessels will be limited to emergency responders and other authorized personnel due to the extensive damage the island sustained from Hurricane Dorian
8:51PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Dorian sweeps over Nova Scotia with strong winds
Dorian is sweeping its way across Nova Scotia with 100 mph winds as hundreds of thousands of people are without power in eastern Canada
8:09PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Dorian makes landfall over Nova Scotia
Dorian has made landfall over Nova Scotia with hurricane-force winds about 15 miles south of Halifax
7:46PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
The Latest: Widespread blackouts as Dorian continues march
Weather officials say Dorian is tearing across the Canadian Maritimes and has left about half a million customers without power
11:05PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Dorian topples crane, knocks out power in eastern Canada
Dorian turns north and begins lashing parts of eastern Canada
11:05PM ( 58 minutes ago )
France, Australia into World Cup quarters; US must wait
France and Australia have reached the quarterfinals of basketball's World Cup
10:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
Hong Kong protesters plan march to US Embassy
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists are set Sunday to march to the U.S. embassy to drum up international support for their months-long protests, after plans to disrupt airport transport links failed and sporadic battles with police continued overnight
10:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump calls off secret meeting with Taliban, Afghan leaders
Trump says he's called off a secret Camp David meeting with Taliban and Afghanistan leaders
10:15PM ( 1 hour ago )