By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
HURRICANE Irma’s fury stripped Marjorie Wallace and her husband of the only home they shared for 35 years, reducing the structure in Duncan Town, located in a bay of shallow water on Ragged Island, to a heap of rubble.
Speaking to reporters as a government delegation toured the decimated island yesterday, she said the extent of damage has left her at a loss for words, adding that she was unable to save anything from the home or from the souvenir shop she also owns.
The Category Five hurricane hit Ragged Island last Friday, packing 185mph winds. There were only about 18 persons still on the island when Irma hit. Other residents, including Mrs Wallace, made the decision to evacuate.
“It is completely gone, completely gone,” she told reporters as she held back tears, standing in front of the pile of debris she once called home. “I am lost for words. Had I been here I might have gotten hurt thinking that the bar would have been a place of shelter, but that is gone and then the cellar that is almost gone from the weight of all materials (that collapsed into the cellar).”
Mrs Wallace said she had no regrets about leaving the island ahead of Irma’s landfall. She said the move may have prevented her from being seriously injured.
Just up the road, sitting next to a running generator gazing into the horizon was 58-year-old Evan Lockhart. Despite the destruction all around him, Mr Lockhart was optimistic about the way forward.
Mr Lockhart described Irma as a “pretty rough” experience, nothing he’d ever gone through in his lifetime.
He sought shelter at a local Anglican church and could see the damage throughout the settlement as he looked through the church’s windows.
“It started like that morning round 8.30, 9 o’clock,” he said. “(Inside) that building it sounded like we were on the train tracks. I saw the damage from the inside.”
While Mr Lockhart said he had no regrets about staying on Ragged Island to ride out the storm, he said “maybe next time, I’ll leave.”
Twenty-seven-year-old Amal Smith shared the similar sentiments, saying the next time a storm hits he would consider leaving the country.
He said despite warnings and calls to evacuate, he “didn’t want to leave my lil’ island”.
Before the storm hit, he thought Irma would have damaged New Providence much more than any other island.
But when it did hit Ragged Island, the devastation was far worse than any other Family Island.
Mr Smith was one of seven people in a home on the island, when an object being tossed around by Irma’s winds struck one of the home’s walls, causing it to crumble.
He said: “Boy, it was good in the beginning. But the last half was a nightmare. I hope to never see nothing like that again.
“Debris (was) flying, walls crumbling, ducking, dodging, boy it was just crazy.
“I had to run from my place. We were in there doing good. Then something slammed the side of the wall. The wall started crumbling. We had to make the decision to get out of the building as quick as possible.”
As he surveyed the damage Irma left on Ragged Island yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he had “never seen anything like this before.”
Dr Minnis has said the island is not fit for residents and a plane will be sent for the remaining islanders on Wednesday so they can evacuate.
While each of the residents told reporters yesterday they were heartbroken by the state of the island, they all agreed on one thing. That is it is now time to clean up, rebuild and move forward in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.