A tapestry of disaster
Peggy Bridgewater moved with a grace unbefitting the horrors she had witnessed and was witnessing in her native Grand Bahama.
Her family only has two houses left after Hurricane Dorian smashed the island a little over a week ago.
On Saturday, Bridgewater, her sisters Pleasant and Natasha and their mother Coramae, were at the family homestead in Bevans Town, Grand Bahama.
The journey to the property is difficult. A large chunk of the road to the east was swallowed by the sea and spat out miles away. Only large, jagged craters remain. Those who can make it are welcomed by downed power poles and lines. Unlike Freeport, where cleanup of the road and debris had started, the road to the east was a tapestry of disaster.
“We are in awe,” Bridgewater, 57, said.
“My brothers came by boat because you couldn’t get through on the road.”
The family home sits on the beach and was mangled, as if it had fought Dorian itself and lost. Pillars were uprooted, the foundation was torn up, the roof gone. The windows were blown out. An old basketball rim clung to an electricity pole. An old CRT television was buried under debris as if it was snorkeling in the Atlantic.
Coramae Bridgewater, 88, had fled the home ahead of Dorian. She returned on Saturday with her children to a chilling sight.
Peggy said they were unsure if this was the home they had grown up in.
“We had no idea where we were until we realized that certain things looked familiar,” she said.
“We couldn’t even tell that it was the home that we grew up in.
“My mom, she loves clothes and everything she has is gone. So, we just had to take it and let her make the last decision on whether she wants to keep them or not.
“It’s a state of shock because it’s not just this house. My other sister, her house is destroyed.
“My brother, his house was covered with water. We had another house…that’s just a frame. All in all, it’s just two houses that all the family have together left.”
There was another horror for the family. Their relative, Romeo, had stayed at a home on the property during the storm. That structure was destroyed. Not a wall stood.
Bridgewater feared that he may still be under the debris or, worse, was dragged out to sea during Dorian’s 20-foot storm surges.
“For me I’m at the point of just wanting to start over,” Bridgewater said.
“When I say start over, not even on the island. For my mom, this is her everything.
“This here means that she’s lost everything. All memory and everything because my father recently passed about a year and a half ago.
“So, she’s still trying to get over that. She was trying her best to hold onto what she could hold onto of him. Now, it’s all gone. It’s all gone. It’s all gone.”
But Bridgewater was adamant that she find her first cousin Romeo.
Members of the Progressive Liberal Party visited the Bridgewaters on Saturday.
“Please, I know you [aren’t] here for long, but please help us look for him,” she asked.
Many residents in East Grand Bahama are tethered by this trauma.
In High Rock, Dunlock Munnings lost everything. His family, wife, son and grandson are missing.
“Death is not a word I’d use and death I’d never believe until I see it,” he said.
His brother, Rendal “Yanks” Munnings, lost his niece, grandniece and grandnephew.
Their brother Charles also lost his family.
The official death toll for Dorian is 50, but that number is expected to rise significantly.
Education: College of The Bahamas, English