Central and South Abaco MP James Albury said that while he is optimistic about the Abacos’ long-term recovery, residents have a long road ahead and much trauma to work through.
Albury said that even though the southern parts of Abaco were not so badly hit, the entire island is at a virtual standstill because people depended on Marsh Harbour and the cays for employment and essential needs.
“The cays, Hope Town, Man-O-War, Guana Cay, as well as Marsh Harbour, were completely devastated,” he said.
“…So, what is currently occurring is from the southern part of the island, from more or less Cherokee Sound south, the physical damage brought by the hurricane was mostly minimal.
“But, of course, when you have the damage to the main economic and transport hub areas, which a lot of people relied on, not only for basic materials and supplies, but also many persons who lived in the south worked in those areas that were devastated, it’s all economically interdependent.
“It places the entire island in a very precarious, very bad situation where if it had gone a different way there might have been some way to maintain the status quo, but the way the storm hit us, many people including myself and my family have had to, at least in the interim, locate elsewhere.”
He added, “I do think it will come back. It will take a lot of time and it will take a lot of hard work, but I believe it will come back.”
Albury, who left Abaco with his family last week, said many have left the island for New Providence and North Eleuthera, as well as the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s tough, and it’s heartbreaking and everyone is going through their own personal rollercoaster of emotion. It’s more than just, ‘I lost my job and my home.’
“People have had to leave their homeland, for lack of a better word.
“…It’s hard to see and it’s hard to be a part of.”
While Albury acknowledged that some people may choose not to return to Abaco, he said many have stayed to help rebuild their communities.
“There are people who are still on the cays and still in Marsh Harbour and the other areas as well, but more so in the cays at this moment, who are staying to help rebuild with the other support that people have brought in to try to bring the cays, at least, back up to a functioning level,” he said.
“…There is a significant amount of people who are determined to do that.
“Of course, many people have, even if they are there, sent their families and their children away because they have to be placed in schools, and for their own safety and basic health.”
He added, “A lot of the business owners in Marsh Harbour are determined to come together and commit to rebuilding Abaco. Right now at this stage, everything is still recovery and relief until everything can be cleaned up and basic utilities start rolling online.
“It’s going to be a slow process. As more and more things come online and as the ground becomes cleaner and safer for people to return and practical for them to reopen their doors, so to speak, I think there will be a significant amount of people who are wanting to do that and are committed to doing that, but I think right now it’s still very raw for everyone who went through it.
“…Perfectly understandably, when these kinds of things happen, some people are evaluating their decisions and that’s a personal thing that’s going to have to come down to the individual, but I think everyone is so up in the air, and we’re all traumatized, and some people are going to have to make those decisions, but I know for a fact that there are people who have the full intention of doing whatever they can to bring relief and to rebuild.”