Stills from videos showing the extent of flooding on Grand Bahama.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
“WE are truly in dire straits,” exclaimed Agriculture Minister Michael Pintard as he and his family watched water gush into their two-storey home in East Grand Bahama.
The Pintards were among scores of families who filled social media with desperate calls for rescue, and up to press time, were still trapped as Hurricane Dorian bludgeoned the nation’s second city with winds over 145mph throughout the day.
Further inland, on Coral Road, five workers and a volunteer at the Humane Society of Grand Bahama were trapped at the shelter with more than 300 animals.
HSGB Executive Director Tip Burrows sobbed as she told The Tribune she was unsure how her staff would be rescued or whether any animals had survived. The animal shelter began taking in water sometime around 10.30am with 200 dogs and 100 cats on site. Among them were 80 animals boarding for protection from the record-breaking storm.
Supervisor Felicia Telfort, field officer Alpedio Johnson, animal care providers Jeremy Butterfield, Caimrun Hart and Keishawn Rolle, along with volunteer and former employee Kennitra, were on top of shelves in the shelter’s lobby around 4pm.
At that time, the flood waters were reportedly neck-high inside the building.
By 6pm, Ms Burrows told The Tribune she’d lost contact with the group.
“The shelter is underwater,” Ms Burrows said tearfully, “everything is flooded. This is devastating and heartbreaking and I don’t know if any (animals) survived. We’re just trying to get the staff out. I know there are a lot of people all over the island needing rescue. Hopefully they can hang on, but they are running low on battery.”
On the eastern side of the Grand Lucayan waterway, Mr Pintard, his wife Berlice and their six-year-old daughter Micaela were forced onto the second floor of his home on Henny Road in Derby after flood waters began to seep into the house sometime after midnight on Monday.
“To get up to my back porch,” Mr Pintard said, “I think we must be at least 15ft above sea level and then furthermore for the water to grow inside to pretty much the top of my door - it’s incredible. It really reaffirms, because I’ve always known (material) things are tertiary, on many levels, family is so crucial and people you care about.”
Mr Pintard continued: “I think about my neighbours and I’m praying to God they are fine because a lot of them had single-story homes. A lot of things we get preoccupied with, this gives you a reality check right away. We’re praying and hoping for the best.”
Several attempts were reportedly made to rescue Mr Pintard and other area residents but failed due to the strong winds and high waves.
“It was impossible for them to come through,” Mr Pintard said, “we’re grateful to everyone who attempted to come, not just the government officials, police officers, persons from BASRA but also just citizens who heard about it and jumped into action and wanted to help.
“We are grateful,” he added, “not out of the woods yet, but already we are grateful.”
Up to press time, Mr Pintard said he was trying to mobilise assistance for hundreds of his constituents who had been forced out of their homes.
“They are homeless tonight,” he said. “Many of them have had to flee Frobisher Circle as well as some persons from Pioneer’s Loop and Coral Reef, and a number of people need to be rescued.
“I’m making as many calls as possible and sending coordinates to police and colleagues in Grand Bahama,” he said.