The service in Central Pines, Abaco.
By Tanya Smith-Cartwright
THE families of 55 Hurricane Dorian victims finally saw their loved ones laid to rest on Friday – though many were still upset at the lack of answers over identification and the handling of the bodies.
In what was termed an Ecumenical Service and “Laying to Rest of the Souls of Hurricane Victims in Abaco” an eight-month emotional ordeal finally came to an end.
The mass burial took place in a public cemetery in Central Pines, Abaco. Many victims of the killer storm remain unaccounted for.
“I mean it’s good and all that we finally get these bodies out the trailer, but I see no dignity here,” said Miriam Taylor. “This was a sub-third world exercise. I saw so many crying, not just because they lost their loves ones, but because they have no idea who is who in these coffins. It’s like ‘You all complaining!? Let’s throw them together like flies and toss them in the hole.’ I feel for my people! This really saddened me today.”
Ms Taylor said she was not a relative of any of the victims, but was being supportive to a friend who actually had lost a relative to Dorian.
Once Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Abaco, for more than 48 hours it hovered over the island moving at just 1mph with winds sometimes gusting up to 220mph.
Stephan Williams said he just started living in Abaco before Dorian. Friday’s service for some, he said, was just as emotionally distressing as the storm itself.
“I really don’t think this government has the people at heart,” Williams said. “I’ve not seen people so distraught since the actual hurricane hit us last year. It’s like reliving it all over again. The prime minister asks if others have a heart and a soul. We need to ask him that. I feel like we have gone backward in time. He wouldn’t want his relative buried like this with no dignity.
“First of all, I really want to know why this took so long. It’s been eight months since this hurricane devastated Abaco. Abaco is still devastated. Abaco looks like Dorian has visited again and again. There’s no attention given here. Now we have COVID and everything is locked down. We are very frustrated here in Abaco.”
The Minnis administration came under heavy criticism for having the bodies of the victims unidentified in a trailer in Abaco for months. Citizens of Abaco felt it was unsanitary and disrespectful to their dead. Finally, the decision was made to bury the dead.
“We can finally breathe a sigh of relief,” said Sadie Cox. “I felt so bad for the family of those people. The bodies just sat there like dead trees or animals. Nobody cared! How can anyone feel good knowing that their relative was in a container all this time, frozen and stink? Now I am happy they are being buried, but how do we know who is who out there? We don’t know.”