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'Nowhere Is Safe'

Stills from videos showing the extent of flooding on Grand Bahama.

Stills from videos showing the extent of flooding on Grand Bahama.

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

“NOWHERE IS SAFE,” is how one Grand Bahama woman described the impact of Hurricane Dorian as it mercilessly battered her beloved island for hours on Monday.

Her words were amplified by countless social media posts written by people frantically searching for missing loved ones and cell phone videos which depicted harrowing experiences in the storm. Many begged for rescue but emergency crews were hindered in many cases by flooded streets and high winds.

“Nowhere is safe,” Dominque Smith told The Tribune yesterday as she braved the storm from her Lucaya home. “Nowhere on the island is safe from Hurricane Dorian.”

Britney Dorsett, a videographer, told The Tribune she spent four torturous hours waiting to hear from her pregnant sister, Dedra.

Twenty-four-year-old Ms Dorsett, who said she is normally “fearless”, described those hours as “scary”.

“Not hearing from her put me in a panic mode because she is six months pregnant and she has seizures when she’s under stress,” Ms Dorsett said. “I started to prepare myself mentally (as) to what might after this storm.”

She noted her sister was staying in the Lucaya area with her boyfriend and his mother. Ms Dorsett gratefully noted she had been able to make contact with them and confirm their safety.

Ms Dorsett said she personally had to evacuate.

“I stay (with) my cousin in the Arden Forest area. We noticed from videos the water getting closer and closer in that area. We left in the strong winds.”

Ms Dorsett fled to Indian Man Road to stay in a two-story home with relatives. However, as the hours passed, she told The Tribune flood waters were startling to seep into this home as well.

Shanti Bain, a 27-year-old medical student home for summer break, told The Tribune she had to evacuate twice. Noting she lives near the water, her family relocated “more inland” to her grandmother’s house. When interviewed initially, Ms Bain noted the home was fine.

However, a few hours later she reported the water came inside - reaching thigh height. The family moved to a friend’s house instead.

These evacuations exacerbated what Ms Bain noted were already anxiety-inducing circumstances.

“My heart was in my throat last night (Sunday),” she said.

“Honestly…I barely slept because outside sounded so scary. And after seeing (those) Abaco videos, all I could think about (was) the roof might fly off.

“But when daybreak (came) the anxiety subsided until I heard about people needing rescuing.

“My daddy said he went outside and people were on foot trying to escape,” Ms Bain continued. “He and my uncle went in the truck to try and help and they couldn’t even get to them.

“My daddy said from what he (saw), if they kept going it would’ve been waist (high).”

Ms Smith, 28, expressed similar heartbreaking sentiments, pointing out for many people, there is nowhere to turn.

“Just about everywhere is underwater,” Ms Smith, a human resources coordinator, said. “We have seen numerous footage of different areas in Grand Bahama - areas that were susceptible to flooding are underwater completely. You could only see the rooftops of people’s homes because everything else is underwater.

“I just saw a video of my friend, he is about 6’3”, 6’4”, the water is (roughly) up to his thighs and he’s trying to evacuate where he lives. My best friend who lives through Gilbert Crest…her house is underwater. There were areas…that weren’t susceptible to flooding that are now underwater. Areas in Lucaya that you wouldn’t think would have flooded, they have water coming in.

“So you have persons who are evacuating their homes…who were supposed to be safe. Now that place is compromised…So where do they go from there? And because the storm is hovering over us for so long, yes you have persons volunteering to go and rescue, but that’s really not the wisest idea right now.”

Fears

Ms Smith also pointed out the long-term economic ramifications of this tragedy.

“You have so many persons who while going through this horrible and emotional time of losing everything, except for their lives and the clothes that they have on their backs, (their minds are) obviously shifting to ‘okay, my job is probably underwater’. Or ‘a lot of these places are not going to be hiring’.

“Some places are probably going to be letting people go because finances are going to be extremely tight in order to rebuild Grand Bahama and its economy in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.”

During the course of the interview, Ms Smith noted conditions were worsening.

“The wind has become even more vicious. It’s hitting us from all angles. Front, back, side to side,” she said.

“All we could do is continue to pray, all we could do is continue to hope that this storm moves from over us as quickly as possible.”

Horrifying videos flooded social media yesterday from Grand Bahama, depicting people walking through water ravaged houses and crouched in the rafters of their homes as storm surge lapped in.

Ms Bain shared a video taken by her neighbour. In it, waves can be seen gushing past the window of the house while water seeps inside.

In another video, a man is sitting on the top of his kitchen sink, filming his home as water seeps through the window. Home and kitchen supplies are floating through his ransacked home. The water level appears to be several feet high.

“My heart is so heavy,” Ms Bain said. “I had to stop watching them. My anxiety was through the roof. I was to tears couple hours ago.”

An additional video is recorded by a man who is purportedly filming from the Freeport airport.

“Here’s a quick view at the back of the airport ramp,” he says, as ferocious waves rush by. “I’m in the FBO building, currently (almost) under water.

“Plenty forces of nature can’t be predicted. That’s the terminal way over there, you could hardly see the terminal. You could see how much water that is?

“Whom God keeps is well kept,” he still says. “Just remember that…in the midst of the storm even.”

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