A reflection on Hurricane Dorian: The anatomy of hope

Dear Editor,

It was there, in the anatomy of hope, we found the true definition of resilience. In the presence of what we feared the most, unwavering faith was born.

We were warned and we took action, but in hindsight we were undoubtedly ill-prepared.

No predictions were remotely close to what these two islands would have soon experienced, which has now changed our lives forever.

To say that it was something out of a horror film would be on the right path but, most assuredly, it would be an understatement at best.

This catastrophic episode will forever be etched in the minds of the front row viewers. And so, born were thousands of stories about Hurricane Dorian that have been featured in documentaries, on news stations, as posts on social media outlets, in anthologies and expressed through other artistic formats.

All of these stories are valid and true. They are worth listening to and we the storytellers are sharing the same message of hope and a newfound appreciation and gratitude for life itself.

On that now infamous day, September 1, 2019, came a loud and endless growling sound of an enraged monster.

Its cyclonic winds violently blew, wreaking havoc, destroying decades of progressive labor and everything that looked like prosperity and advancement.

As a young man, I have faced many challenges head on and will continue to do so, but in that moment, as prayerful of a person that I am, after I had done all of my acts of bravery, I was left in a state of shock.

There I was, in an apartment with 10 other souls shivering with uncertainty. I mustered every ounce of courage and calmness within to keep my composure, as I directed everyone to the safest place I could think of — the bathroom.

As the strong, boisterous winds pounded the building, ripping off parts of the roof; the cold heavy rain descended with vengeance; the wall that we leaned against at any moment could have collapsed on us.

All I could do was pray.

This is what God placed on my mind. I thought of my family who were suffering the same fate not too far from where I was and also in that moment I thought of friendship, of life and the immediate responsibility I had for those in my reach. Those thoughts served as the silver lining of hope when hopelessness nearly consumed me.

As an Abaconian and survivor of Dorian, the days that followed the storm were even more perilous. Upon seeing the destruction that was left behind, it devastated our psyche.

Post-apocalyptic, science fiction made into reality; the situation was dire, to say the least.

There was a slightly delayed response from the relevant agencies, which resulted in the masses salvaging food, water and other necessities.

There were no titles among us; they were all stripped away. No pastors, but there was prayer; no doctors, but healing started to take place; no rich and poor, the spoils were shared evenly.

In that moment, there was no black or white. It was a matter of the living soul; it was just human beings.

The only status, both citizens and residence acknowledged, was that of a survivor. Bonded by the unfortunate brush of a near death experience we truly became our brother’s keeper.

Now a year later and the relics of the impact of Hurricane Dorian still linger in my mind. There are still people living in shelters. There are loved ones who are still unaccounted for. There is a great need of attention for mental health issues, as flashbacks are easily triggered by any forecasted thunderstorm.

I often wonder if the storm itself was a precursor, a forewarning of sorts for what we would face in 2020.

Again, here we are, survivors still recovering from wounds of yesteryear, a nation overwhelmed but overcoming and global citizens standing in the middle of yet another unfortunate epidemical phenomenon.

As we reflect on the past chain of events, we are reminded that there’s a long way left to go.

Questions will continue to rise and even if we don’t have all of the answers on hand, we have each other like we did after the storm.

As banal as that may sound, it is imperative that we come together as a people, to utilize our collective intelligence, in order to better prepare ourselves with more shelters, action ready relief plans, to face and overcome any new challenges that are set on the horizon. So, in addition to one being hopeful for a better future, and although we will not agree on everything, we must identify that common loftier goal.

While in this process may our unity and brotherly love be found in the very act and not only in the aftermath of a storm.

For me, I choose to remain hopeful. Why? Well, it is more daring, and anything else that’s not found in the anatomy of hope is contrary to who I am and who I’m becoming.

Joinel Jeune

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