The mass burial of 55 Hurricane Dorian victims in Abaco.
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
DESPITE explanations from the Disaster Reconstruction Authority during a press Zoom conference on Sunday, some Abaco residents are still frustrated about the mass burial of Hurricane Dorian victims.
Fifty-five victims of the devastating storm were laid to rest by the DRA on Friday amid some protest. The mass burial, organised by the Bahamas Christian Council and the Funeral Directors Association, according to the DRA, took place in a public cemetery in Central Pines, Abaco. Many victims of the killer storm remain unaccounted for and only a handful of those buried have been positively identified by DNA so far.
Many Abaconians watched the press conference on Sunday and some seemed dissatisfied with what they heard.
“I watched the press conference and I don’t feel that this long, drawn out thing was necessary,” Michelle Oliver said.
“All of these police and coroner’s reports could have been done months ago. They were really not full reports. . .To me the big, empty multi-burial was unnecessary and so was the press conference. Is anything going to be better for us here in Abaco? I don’t think so.”
Some residents believe the handling of the burial service was impersonal.
Reese Burrows said: “Why should these people put together a service when the authority could have contacted the people whose relatives died themselves? Like they don’t want to speak to us? This is so impersonal. I was furious when she said that. That don’t even sound right. I have never seen a more heartless set of people like this government. Where did they come from?”
One official at the press conference said some of Friday’s protestors did not lose loved ones during the storm and suggested they had ulterior motives.
Resident Doreen Symonette said while that might be true, people on the island are just frustrated.
“. . .Where some of that might be true, the fact remains that we were very angry at having bodies here for months and nothing being able to identify our dead. We are also very mad at how that Disaster Authority is doing nothing for Abaco. When is Abaco going to stop looking like an atom bomb was dropped on it?”
One Abaconian saw a silver lining in what one could term a grim situation.
“I watched the press conference and with all that was said, I look at it as the first attempt at closure for us here in Abaco,” Lydia Sawyer said. “These bodies were here for many months and we complained about that. Now that they are buried, are we going to continue to complain? I feel, through the grace of God that those bodies, although committed to the earth, will soon be identified and we can go and visit the gravesites knowing exactly who is in them.”
The police are encouraging Abaconians to give blood and other samples of their DNA to assist with identifying those who were buried in Friday’s ceremony.