FOR those of us who did not go through the horrific experience of Hurricane Dorian, it is hard to grasp the level of trauma suffered by those who did.
Read the story on page one today in which storm survivors talk of how the tragedy has affected them and it gives a glimpse of how big a scar has been left on our nation.
Lavario Pinder is one of those who came through alive after Dorian hit Abaco. He was far from unscathed, however. He told our reporter of how, when he closes his eyes, he sees the surging water that struck the island, with bodies drifting in the current.
“I really could have died,” he says. Instead, he’s alive, but left trying to figure out how to start his life all over again.
Another Abaco evacuee, Rico Pierre, credits being able to swim for keeping him alive. He was in an old church when the storm struck and he and a couple of others managed to help people who couldn’t swim to survive through the storm.
He said: “We had to hold on to a pipe because the water was getting higher.”
It’s almost impossible to think about how hard it must have been for those who went through such experiences.
This isn’t something that can be solved tomorrow. This is a trauma that will still be with people tomorrow. Six months from now. A year, two years. Perhaps forever.
In yesterday’s Tribune, we hailed the signing of a heads of agreement for a new cruise port in East Grand Bahama as being the start of rebuilding. But just as we rebuild the physical parts of our nation after the damage of the storm, so too do we need to help those dealing with trauma to rebuild their lives.
This will not be a short journey - but we need to be there to support hurricane survivors as they go through it.
We can draw encouragement from those who have seen this need and are trying to respond to it - the art gallery has been open for free all this month for those needing a space of peace, the music and arts communities have been responding with events that combine fundraising and offering comfort, and mental health professionals have been making their services available.
There will be a strong role too for the religious community, which will be the first place many survivors turn to in search of support.
We hope that this response can be sustained long-term – and perhaps co-ordinated so that when people do need somewhere to turn to, even months down the line from now, they know an easy way to find the support they need. Perhaps a helpline, perhaps a dedicated support team at Social Services, perhaps the churches coming together to provide a central point of contact for those who want to reach out.
More than anything else, the survivors of the storm need to hear one thing from the rest of the nation: We are here for you.
As those of us lucky enough not to have been affected try to understand what victims have gone through, that is the least that we can do.