Deepening crisis in Dorian’s wake
(The Nassau Guardian, 6 Sept. 2019) MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco — The stench of death lingers throughout Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
It’s easy to mistake the once-booming island for the scene of a post-apocalyptic film.
During a visit to the settlement yesterday, The Nassau Guardian observed three dead bodies trapped in the rubble of a church destroyed by the deadly winds of Hurricane Dorian – a Category 5 storm that ravaged the island on Sunday.
The morgue at the government clinic reeked of the nauseating smell of the decomposing eight bodies there.
Shortly after noon, a flatbed truck pulled up to the clinic.
It carried more victims of Dorian’s wrath.
Four men in white quarantine suits assisted another 11 men unload dead bodies into an air-conditioned trailer.
It is unclear how many bodies were in the trailer.
However, there was more to the bleakness of Marsh Harbour than just those killed by the storm.
There was also those who are scarred: mentally, physically and emotionally.
One woman roamed the runway at the now-flooded Marsh Harbour International Airport.
She said nothing, only screamed in apparent agony.
Men and women at the airport and the clinic moaned in pain.
Some had visible wounds, like a man with an infected gash on his leg.
Others only stared, still processing their traumatic experiences from the storm.
Children cried on their mothers’ laps on bed sheets stretched on the lawn of the clinic.
There was a woman begging for “solid food” for her husband who was being treated for injuries.
The government complex, which is a short walk from the clinic, used to house the key public offices on the island, including the parliamentary secretary’s office and a local National Insurance Board (NIB) office.
Now, hundreds of storm victims swarm the dirty hallways.
They’ve converted small offices into apartments for two or three families.
A gallon bottle, cut in half and filled with urine, was in the corner of a room.
A man with dirty feet sat atop a staircase, eating ham and bread.
On the opposite side of the building, a 40-something-year-old woman stood while perming the hair of her daughter.
Dorian’s survivors have set up makeshift campsites at the rear of the complex.
The tops of cars were filled with shoes which baked in the sun.
Towels, clothes and other items hung from trees that have been stripped to the bone by the storm’s vicious winds.
Despite the poor conditions, many children at the complex were naively happy while playing games.
They seemed genuinely unharmed by the horror of Dorian. Some of their parents outlined the terrifying moments experienced by their children.
Those experiences included watching relatives die, roofs fly off and tornadoes near their windows.
Traveling throughout the settlements was difficult as some streets have been turned into lakes.
The interior of the airport was damp and musty.
The parking lot was filled with cars that have busted out windows and tail lights; all parked in the stagnant water left by Dorian.
Downtown Marsh Harbour was unrecognizable.
Wild electrical wires from fallen poles sprawled over roads, rubble and water.
The bakeries, gas stations and other businesses – that once bustled with visitors and residents – are missing roofs, walls and windows.
Some of those businesses are no longer standing.
Residents of the decimated town have looted stores that have minimally damaged products.
They raided for food, water, clothing and sanitary products.
One man left a store with a large television on his head.
There was barely police presence in the heart of Marsh Harbour.
However, there was a large presence of Royal Bahamas Police Force officers and Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines at the clinic and complex.
They monitored the group of storm victims and sought to keep tensions calm.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard continued evacuations yesterday.
Headknowles — aided by Paul Aranha of Trans Airways — also evacuated storm victims