By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A MEMORIAL wreath was released into the sea at High Rock on Sunday for the missing victims in East Grand Bahama who were swept away by storm surge during Hurricane Dorian.
Most of the unaccounted for victims on Grand Bahama were from the High Rock community, where more than a dozen persons are still missing and feared dead.
Many gathered for a service of reflection in honour at the Government Park in High Rock on Sunday at 2.30pm, where candles were lit in remembrance of the missing.
Pastor Pedyson Baillou, one of the organisers of the event, said that it was a time of remembrance for the eight missing persons - Monique Munnings, Henilee Mackey, Havard Bevans, Clarence Jones, Roswell Pinder, his wife Sybil Pinder, and their daughter Tanae Pinder, all of High Rock, and George Laing, of McLean’s Town – who have not been seen since the storm on September 3.
Persons from as far as West End, Grand Bahama and Abaco attended the memorial service, he said. Also, in attendance were Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, the MP for East Grand Bahama; Senator Katherine Smith; Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis, and Rickey Mackey, the MP for North Eleuthera.
Pastor Baillou said that the East End community is still going through the healing process in the aftermath of the ordeal.
“It is a process that everybody is going through, and we are hoping to see our loved ones again. But in all things, we give thanks to God,” he said.
“After the service, we threw a wreath where all had gone in the water. It symbolised the love, hope, and light that they had given to the community, and we hope to see them again on the other side of Jordan,” Pastor Baillou said.
Speaking of the missing, he said Henilee Mackey was a promising young lady who appeared on an early morning talk show on ZNS. Monique Munnings was an employee at Urban Renewal who helped many in the High Rock community, he said.
George Laing was a fisherman in McLean’s Town. Roswell Pinder was a well-known insurance agent for many years, and his wife, Sybil, worked for a Brokerage firm on the island. Clarence Jones was a former teacher and avid sportsman.
As the communities in East Grand Bahama cope with loss of missing loved ones, Pastor Baillou said they are also trying to restore life and hope back in their communities that were devastated by the storm.
Mr Turnquest, who brought remarks, said that the loss of life witnessed in the community is devastating.
“Our hearts are full with grief and saddened, even as we hold out hope that our love ones will be found alive through the mercy of God or, if He suffers it to be so, deceased, as we increasingly must come to accept,” he said. “We all hope and pray for closure even as the possibility that this peace may not be ours. Let me assure you all here today, on behalf of the government, that we will not give up on the search for your loved ones until all possible avenues and reasonable chance of success has been exhausted.
inherit“To the families…who have missing love ones, I want to encourage you in this difficult time to continue to hold onto one another and to the hand of the almighty Jesus Christ, who does all things well. Even in our disappointments and questioning, He remains faithful and sure. Relying on such sure support you can rise with boldness and confidence, that it is and will be well...you will come through this with clarity and peace of mind.”
The ceremony coincided with Remembrance Day, when those who have lost their lives in war are honoured.
He said the memorial “is fitting to memorialise those from this community, who have lost their lives in another kind of war. That being a relentless and often invisible war against the very real and evident effects of climate change, an enemy not of our making but nonetheless one that we are forced to fight, sometimes alone with limited resources,” he said.
Mr Turnquest said the lessons learned from these experiences must be documented, analysed and a detailed plan for pre-storm resilience building of physical infrastructure, financial and social infrastructure must be undertaken.
The official death toll from Hurricane Dorian is 67, however officials have said that number could rise as more bodies are uncovered.