‘i’ve experienced the wrath of God coming through Acklins’


Acklins during the storm.


Tribune Staff Reporter


IT seemed as if no one was immune to the destruction that Hurricane Joaquin left behind in Acklins and the residents are more than grateful to the support they are getting from the rest of the Bahamas.

While Harvey Roberts was kept busy ensuring that the 900 residents of the island, known as the “Home of the Cascarilla Bark”, the administrator had to take care of business at his home in Mason’s Bay.

“It’s been an eye opener to a lot of things,” said Mr Roberts, who came to the island on February 26 after last serving in San Salvador. “I think I’ve experienced the wrath of God coming through this island at 100-plus miles per hour, being trapped in my house with my wife, trying to bale the house out so it doesn’t flood too much and it got so much that it overwhelmed us.

“We had to stop, put all our brooms and buckets down and pray. That’s how overwhelmed we were. (We prayed), went back to baling and after it subsided, it came back again and when it did, it came back with force, breaking the glass in the front our house.

“Just outside the door was a boat that was coming right at us and we prayed again that we would not get hit and God just moved the boat. If that had come straight through our door, we would have lost everything. We were lucky that the wind shifted to the northwest and we were able to concentrate on stemming the tide. It’s an experience I don’t think I want to experience again. Definitely, we had God in the midst, but I was at a stage where I was scared. You can’t just put your hand up and stop what was coming.”

Mr Roberts noted that there was so much damage to the nine settlements in the island that is closely adjacent to Crooked Island.

“If that was deep water and with the surge that came in, we probably would not be on this island,” Mr Roberts told The Tribune.

Unlike Crooked Island where the majority of women and children had to be evacuated to New Providence, Mr Roberts said they were able to stay on the island and weather the aftermath.

On Sunday, the island received additional relief as a team from The Tribune Media Group’s ‘SOS - Save Our South’ operation along with a volunteer team from the HeadKnowles relief group landed on the island delivering more than 75,000 pounds of supplies of clothing, food, water and bleach packaged in Nassau and flown in on a DC-3 cargo plane, provided by Save the Bays.

The trip came after a stopover in Mayaguana on Saturday where the same quantity of supplies was dropped of by the joint efforts of The Tribune Media Group and HeadKnowles. HeadKnowles has been using its Furniture Plus Warehouse as its operational base where the donated items have been stored.

“We’re so grateful because there are so many people who are in need,” Mr Roberts said. “These things came in the right time and so we will do whatever we can to assist everybody. That is going to be our challenge, especially those in Lovely Bay, who were affected the most.”

The monster storm destroyed homes and buildings with its strong wind and storm surges. The category four hurricane churned through The Bahamas for two days, October 1 and 2.

Looking back, the island’s residents were appreciative that they didn’t lose their only doctor. One story told is that the only policeman, Corporal Trevor Burrows, who was on the island at the time, had to go on a search and rescue mission to bring the doctor to the Community Centre, which was used as the hurricane relief centre during the hurricane.

“I made an effort to get into some of the settlements to try and rescue persons out of their homes in those low lying areas because of the flooding,” Cpl Burrows said.

As it for the assistance to the doctor, Cpl Burrows said he had to “track through the bush” to get to the doctor’s house and by the time he rescued him, the water was waist high.

“You couldn’t see the beach, which you would have clearly seen on a normal day, but this wasn’t a normal day,” Cpl Burrows said. “That was one of the most difficult parts that I had to go through.”

Outside of that rescue, Cpl Burrows said he was only able to get one person out of their homes because everybody wanted to ride out the storm in their houses.

“In my 37 years in The Bahamas, I’ve never experienced a storm like that,” said Cpl Burrows.

In expressing his gratitude for the support that is coming in, Cpl Burrows said police and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers, headed by Chief Petty Officer Sewlyn Roberts, who have been deployed to the island, will make certain that the residents benefit from the post-hurricane relief as they begin their restoration.


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