With tomorrow marking one year since the deadly Category 5 Hurricane Dorian ravaged parts of Abaco, the surviving businesses on the island – many of which had to rebuild – announced they would close their doors in remembrance of those lost.
Abaco Chamber of Commerce President Ken Hutton said the businesses decided to unite not necessarily to take a stand for the community, but to stop and think about how far they’ve come since the devastating storm.
“For anyone who was there, I just think we were thinking about it as something that had such an affect on us that it really needs to be memorialized and we need to take the time to figure out that it’s been a year and where are we from there,” he told Guardian Business.
“I guess it’s more than anything probably a thanksgiving that we’re still here and many of us aren’t and whatever we have right now, we should really be thankful for and remember those who didn’t make it.”
Official records estimate that 74 people died as a result of the storm and dozens more are still missing. Damage from the storm has been estimated at more than $3 billion.
While rebuilding efforts have begun on the island, Hutton has in recent times lamented the lack of skilled labor and electricity.
Asked if he’s satisfied with the pace that commerce is returning to the island a year later, Hutton said, “No, we’re nowhere near where we were pre-Dorian. And the primary reason for that is the entire commercial district of Abaco is still in ruins. So there’s really nowhere for any business to go but up.”
Looking ahead, Hutton said the business community on Abaco is hopeful about the year ahead and returning the island to its former glory.
“I think that obviously we’re hoping that this next 12-month period is better than the previous one. Back in March, we seemed to be on a trajectory to start to recover. But then when the COVID-19 situation happened it basically stopped everything almost dead in the water,” he said.
“So once we get past this and we can have a chance to recover and get some kind of momentum, I think that Abaco will start to recover a lot faster than it did in the last 12 months.”