East End residents want to leave

At Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA) yesterday, scores of residents lined off on the side of an opening in the fence where private charters came in bringing relief supplies and taking affected residents off the island recently devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

On that line was Floyd Smith of McLean’s Town, the settlement to the very end of East Grand Bahama where floodwaters still prevent trucks and other vehicles from accessing.

“Basically, 95 percent of the houses are gone,” he said.

“They’ve been totally demolished.

“There’s really nothing to check out down there. It’s been wiped out. We can rebuild, but that place has been smashed man. We got about five houses that can be restored.”

McLean’s Town is one of the areas where residents were strongly urged to evacuate. Unfortunately, Smith said, not everyone decided to leave.

“As far as I know, we’ve lost a few people up there. I can’t give you an exact count, but I know for sure that we’ve lost some folks up there,” he said.

“Other than that I heard from a few of my friends who live up there.”

Smith said after the hurricane passed, he and seven other McLean’s Town men walked along Grand Bahama highway to McLean’s Town to see what was left of their home. It was a walk that took them 14 hours.

But as Smith sought to get his family off the island, many others waited patiently to score a seat on a special Bahamasair flight which brought in personnel from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for an assessment.

That assessment saw that team spend a few hours driving around several communities in Freeport, but not the hardest-hit areas of East Grand Bahama.

The group never made it past Sir Jack Hayward Bridge, beyond which there lies utter destruction in further communities.

During their assessment, NEMA officials spent a lot of time in several subdivisions like Hudson Estate, where severe flooding caused extensive damage to homes.

In that community, Rashema Ingraham was there helping her mother remove soaked furniture and clothing. But Ingraham said she’s disappointed in the lack of relief, which she said has yet to reach their area.

“I haven’t seen aid on the ground and I think that’s one of the things that everybody wants to see,” she said.

“We want to see them (government officials) walking through the communities, house-to-house almost like they were during campaign time, house-to-house giving out goods and water, blankets, beds. That’s really what the people here want to see. People here want to see that they actually care by being on the ground.”

Outside Tinia Parker’s Sunset Subdivision home, spread out on the lawn, are her family’s clothing and furniture as well.

As she sat on her porch with her back against the wall, Parker told The Nassau Guardian since the passage of Hurricane Dorian it’s been depressing as they try to clean and see what can be saved from what cannot.

“Look out here, look at everything,” she said pointing to her family’s belongings along the fence and in the grass. “To know that a lot of people are driving by, I mean sometimes you need a little hand, you need a little help.”

And when asked about relief, Parker said, “To be honest with you nothing came this way as yet. From the time the storm happened, it’s been where I rest my head and here just trying to take stuff out of the house and try to save whatever I can save.”

Just around the corner, the home of Lynn Knowles looks structurally sound. However, on the inside, every wall is busted and all of her family’s personal belongings scattered about.

“We were asleep when we realized the water had begun to flood the house,” she said as she stepped over the rubble in her home.

“I tried to get all my kids up and I told them to pack a bag we have to go. When I looked out the window all I could see was water, so I packed a bag and called my neighbor. As I started to drive I was blowing, blowing my horn, and my neighbor said as he heard the horn he knew something was wrong.”

While expressing how glad she was her family got out, Knowles pointed to the watermark just above her head in her bedroom, which showed where the flood settled.

Knowles said she’s now awaiting an assessment by the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation to determine whether she can fix her home or whether she has to move.

Bahamasair is reportedly working to have evacuation flights for those eager to leave Grand Bahama.

Meanwhile, relief supplies are arriving on the island via plane and boat.

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Kyle Walkine

Kyle started with The Nassau Guardian in June 2014 as a broadcast reporter. He began anchoring the newscast four months later. Kyle began writing national news and feature stories in 2016. He covers a wide range of national stories. He previously worked as a reporter at Jones Communications. Education: College of The Bahamas, Bachelor Media

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