GRAND CAY, Abaco — Elizabeth Albury, 63, and Whitfield Albury, 83, will have to start over after Hurricane Dorian ravaged the tiny island they call home, but they say the storm has made them stronger.
“It made us stronger as a people,” Elizabeth Albury said in her home on Grand Cay yesterday.
“For me, I lost my friend and her husband and their daughter. They were in High Rock, [Grand Bahama].
“What really hurt me is that when she sent me the last text…I didn’t even ask her where she was spending the hurricane or whether or not her children would be with her.
“This is what she texted me. I sent a text back to her. She said, ‘Girl be safe over there. I know your children are worried about you but God is bigger than any storm.’”
Albury said she heard that her friend and her husband’s body were found on Grand Bahama.
“I didn’t even…,” she started before stopping herself to fight back tears.
“It’s hard,” she said.
“I ask God to strengthen me every day to go through it. It’s going to take time.
“With this I learned, every day, every minute, I say I love you baby.”
Albury embraced and kissed her husband, who appeared a little embarrassed by the sudden show of affection.
“I love you,” Albury said.
“I just love you.”
Whitfield Albury relented and hugged his wife back.
The Alburys didn’t lose their home, but it sustained major damage. Parts of the roof are gone. The ceilings in the bedrooms are gone.
Everything they own sits on wet mattresses, but they don’t mind. They will rebuild, they say.
On Wednesday, former prime ministers Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie visited several cays on North Abaco, including Grand Cay.
“Words can’t express when we saw those two former leaders of our nation,” Elizabeth Albury said.
“Webster dictionary ain’t make the word to describe how I felt as a Bahamian.”
Whitfield Albury agreed, but he said he was disappointed with North Abaco MP Darren Henfield and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis because they did not immediately visit the island.
Elizabeth Albury chimed in, “He (Henfield) came seven days later? I mean what if we was all dead?”
Every home on Grand Cay was touched by Dorian, which was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the northern Bahamas.
Some homes were smashed into oblivion. Others only sustained minor roof damage.
Dorian’s wrath was meted out to old and young, rich and poor.
But the residents on Grand Cay are rebuilding, cleaning up and preparing to move on.
As generators hummed along, men across the island were patching roofs, cutting wood and cleaning up debris.
The water tower on the island was crushed. There is no electricity either, but residents say if Bahamas Power and Light can come down and run lines, light will be up in no time.
Jay Higgs, 32, a diver by profession, is living in a tent next to his home.
The roof of his home is gone. When it rains, he says, it’s like the hurricane never left.
“I’m trying to get away from the hurricane but I’m getting into it more,” he said as he carried a five gallon bottle of water back home.
“You have to help people who can’t help themselves.”
Higgs ran from shelter to shelter during Dorian. He’s tired, he said.
His boat is battered. His home is battered. His spirit is battered, he said.
“It’s been hell,” he said inside the ruins of his house.
“Nothing you can do but take it. You can’t blame no one. It was Mother Nature, but boy it’s been so bad.”
Higgs said the aid has been pouring into Grand Cay, but sometimes you end with up with dozens of bars of soap and no food.
“It’s really a fight,” he said.
“It really is the fittest of the fittest.”
A few short steps down the road, Alphonso Rolle, 75, is staring out at the ocean from the doorway of his home.
He’s happy to be alive.
“I could have been dead,” he said.
“No one died on Grand Cay.
“When I heard about the deaths I was so shocked.”
There are at least 50 people who died as a result of the storm.
He added, “Thank God I’m alive.”
The government clinic is up and running thanks to Allen Exploration, a group from the U.S., which is also cleaning up the Grand Cay All Age School.