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Isaias stirs new fears among Dorian survivors

Destruction on Abaco following Hurricane Dorian.

With a tent in her backyard on Guana Cay, Abaco, as her family’s only shelter, Beckylee Albury, 36, has given up on any semblance of a plan for Tropical Storm Isaias, now forecast to develop into a hurricane.

“I already cried yesterday and today,” she said.

“And I don’t know what else to do anymore.”

Isaias was dumping heaving rain over portions of the Dominican Republic yesterday and the National Hurricane Center said it is forecast to become a hurricane by tonight.

With memories of Hurricane Dorian still raw, many who lived through that deadly storm are still attempting to put their lives back together.

News that The Bahamas is in the cone of Isaias has hit hard.

“Emotionally, I’ve been drained since

Dorian,” Albury said. “So, this is just making it even worse. After Dorian, I couldn’t sleep for weeks. And now with this storm, I’m just numb basically.

“There’s nothing I could do. There’s nothing. I have no plan because there’s nothing I can see to do. We’re going to probably be in the tent for the storm.”

With no official shelters on Guana Cay, she said she can only hope that a friend or neighbor will allow her family to stay with them.

“We’re hoping that somebody will think about us and, at least for the storm, give us a place to stay or something like that,” she said.

Having had a traumatizing experience in Marsh Harbour during Hurricane Dorian, in which her four-year-old son nearly drowned, Albury said she will not seek shelter on mainland Abaco.

“We ended up swimming. I almost lost my four-year-old. He almost drowned,” she said.

“…If we would have stayed in Guana, we probably would have been better off than staying in Marsh Harbour last time.”

Dorian ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama last September, killing at least 74 and leaving thousands homeless.

Albury said she still has nightmares about the experience.

Albury, her fiancé and their two-year-old moved back to Guana Cay a few weeks ago, having left Abaco for New Providence after Hurricane Dorian.

She said her other children are still in Nassau with her mother.

Albury said the Disaster Reconstruction Authority provided help with building supplies to repair their home, but things are still in limbo, especially financially.

“I started a job a few weeks ago,” she said.

“My husband was supposed to go crawfishing this morning, but the storm changed that. So, he’s left with nothing to do right now. It’s very stressful.”

To make matters worse, she said, her mother no longer has housing security in Nassau as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even while we were there, we ended up losing our place of residence because of COVID-19 and all the impact and everyone being laid off from their jobs or going to part-time,” Albury said.

“…They are still without somewhere to live. They are basically between hotels and Airbnbs and searching for an apartment.

“It’s a lot of stress. It’s not only the storm. It’s just a lot.”

High risk

For Melissa McPhee, 44, who lives on Grand Bahama, COVID-19 is directly impacting her ability to feel secure in a storm.

“I’m really concerned,” she said. “A whole lot.”

Tarp is the only thing stopping McPhee’s home in Columbus from flooding after it was severely damaged in Hurricane Dorian.

“It was really severe and we’re still trying to come back from it,” she said.

“…The roof is still covered with tarp. It’s kind of putting me on edge to know that we are faced with another storm that is quickly approaching. It’s really been intense for me.”

However, as a sickle cell patient, who is at high risk for COVID-19, she said she can’t risk going to a shelter.

Grand Bahama currently has the most cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, with 239 of its 247 cases confirmed since July 8.

The island is in the middle of a two-week lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

While government officials have said they will ensure social distancing in shelters, McPhee, a mother of two, is not willing to take the chance.

“I just can’t personally take that risk,” she said.

“I can’t do it at all. On top of that, I have a problem with seizures.

“…I try to keep myself and not be clustered or around many people because the least little things trigger the seizures.”

McPhee said she experienced a sickle cell crisis during Dorian.

“So, I was unable to do anything,” she said. “My 19-year-old had to run out in the storm to go and get the ambulance.

“…The water was already up to his chest.”

But McPhee said she has nowhere else to go.

“We just said we are going to stay right here,” she said.

“We don’t really have anywhere else to go.”

McPhee said she is also afraid to leave her home to prepare for the storm.

She has to rely on her son for assistance in getting supplies.

“I only have him to depend on,” she said.

McPhee added, “I just don’t want to take a chance being a high-risk person.

“If anybody is out there that can reach out and give a helping hand, I would truly appreciate it. I would really appreciate it.”

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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