By JADE RUSSELL AND LETRE SWEETING
ABACO residents dealt with immense flooding from the late season storm Nicole yesterday, with some experiencing anxiety and others thankful this experience was not as traumatic as Hurricane Dorian.
Junior Mernard, a member of the Hope Town District Council, said their office was underwater.
“Our office is currently underwater in Hope Town in the settlement and the kids’ playground is flooded,” he told this newspaper.
“But so far so good, we don’t anticipate any major damage from this. There will be some minor clean-up you know with the surge bringing in some light debris that’s about it.
“And we hope that we can get back to normal again real soon. There’s no ferry service from the island, all the ferry service suspended until further notice,” Mr Mernard said.
He said fortunately there was no flooding reported in the homes of Hope Town residents.
He said power in Hope Town had been off since Tuesday, adding that residents still did not have power yesterday around 11am.
Bishop Silbert Mills, a resident of Marsh Harbour, said 217 persons sought shelter at his church, Friendship Tabernacle.
Bishop Mills told this newspaper the influx of people entering the two designated shelters in Central Abaco was overwhelming to the point a third designated shelter had to be opened.
The storm grew into a hurricane after it left Abaco and made landfall in Grand Bahama yesterday evening.
Residents said the storm brought gusty winds and heavy rain that poured into the streets.
“So now we have three (shelters), we were refusing so many people we had to open something else. So, folks in low-lying areas made it out without any incident and voluntarily occupied shelters during the storm,” Bishop Mills said.
He said Nicole began to rage around 7am yesterday resulting in flooding at Central Abaco.
Bishop Mills said a storm surge had “snowballed” into areas of Abaco, adding that he received videos and photographs of the surge in areas of Blackwood, Cooper’s Town, Green Turtle Cay, Hope Town, and Cherokee Sound.
However, there has been a positive shift on Abaco in terms of residents’ preparation and willingness to evacuate areas considered to be vulnerable.
Bishop Mills said: “I think Dorian was a wake-up call and people aren’t taking any chances with this.”
Amanda Sawyer, a resident of Treasure Cay, said many residents had anxiety because of Dorian and the traumatic impact it left in 2019.
“We just need to weather it out as best as we can. Also, try to stay calm. I think a lot of people are struggling from hysteria, so it makes things worse.”
Karen Laroda, a resident of Cedar Harbour, on Little Abaco, feared the knee-deep water in the front yard of her house.
Ms Laroda said sea levels rose, which caused water to flood throughout the streets and eventually into her yard.
When she spoke to this newspaper, Ms Laroda said the water had not made its way into her home. However, the intensified heavy rain and flooding had her worried of what was to come.
“I’m praying that it doesn’t get any higher because if it gets any higher then that means we will have to try and evacuate,” she said.
When asked if she had an evacuation plan, Ms Laroda said: “We’ll have to go further in the back of us because of all the debris in the road and the salt water you can’t drive your vehicle or see the road.”
Sansa Knowles, a resident of an apartment complex in Murphy Town, Marsh Harbour, who weathered the storm with her fiancé and two sons, said though she didn’t see much flooding there was a lot of strong wind and rain.
“It was scary last night, but we made it through last night, but right now it is calm. Everybody is safe. This one was easy, but I suggest anyone who doesn’t have strong structures or hurricane-proof windows seek shelter,” Ms Knowles said.
“This morning when we woke up it was really bad, a lot of rain, a lot of gusts, the few trees we had like almond trees and pear trees and banana trees, they’re all down,” she said.
“Through this area, where I live, it’s not flooded. But further up where my daughter-in-law called from, she is near the park, that’s where all the water is. Last night with the king tide, it messed it up. So, probably five or ten minutes from us, the water is all in the road,” she said.
In Cooper’s Town, D’Angelo Edgecombe, chief councillor for the district, said residents remain in “good spirits” despite the weather conditions.
“Conditions were moderate. Folks are in good spirits,” he said.
“In Cooper’s Town, the front road is the seaside road. Because of the surge, the king tide, you have debris from the ocean, seaweed, lumber and old boats washed up in the street,” Mr Edgecombe said.
He said the one shelter in his district saw up to 15 people through the night.
Mr Edgecombe added that his district has been without power and water since 9pm Tuesday.
Another resident of Cooper’s Town, Errily Russell, 59, said after the destruction of her home following Hurricane Dorian, she sought shelter with a friend to avoid further damage.
“I didn’t weather the storm at my home. I weathered the storm at a friend’s, because last time, with Hurricane Dorian, I had to move out and do a whole renovation, there was a lot of damage,” she said.
“There was a lot of rain and wind and flooding. Some parts are flooded and some parts are not.
“Places like the Blackwood area and the Cooper’s Town clinic, those places are flooded, people can’t get out, it’s still raining,” she said.
Her power and water has been off since Tuesday night.
Jeremy Sweeting, Chief Councillor for Hope Town and Guana Cay, said along with power loss, flooding was a huge concern in his district.
“We had power loss since (Tuesday). The biggest issue we faced in my district, because the storm came on a full moon with king tides, we had some flooding along the harbour front,” Mr Sweeting said.
He added, “It has impacted some of the businesses on the harbour front. I don’t think it’s anything insurmountable, but my district in Guana Cay and Hope Town had a lot of flooding.”