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Ecumenical service for the burial of loved ones who lost their lives during Hurricane Dorian

An ecumenical service and burial for loved ones who lost their lives during Hurricane Dorian will take place today at 10 a.m.

The service and burial are scheduled for the public cemetery, S.C. Bootle Highway, Central Pines. Religious leaders from the Abaco Christian Council and the wider Christian community are assisting with the service.

The service is being led by the Abaco Christian Council and its president, Pastor Edgburt Tinker. He will also serve as the chief celebrant, and will be assisted by Archdeacon Earl Hepburn and other ministers of the gospel.

According to Archdeacon Keith Cartwright, there will be a graveside ecumenical service followed by a burial, taking into consideration the necessary COVID-19 protocols. These protocols will be strictly enforced. The service was previously postponed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cartwright said the ceremony will be a time for all to “remember the impact Hurricane Dorian has had on our communities and as good Christian people pay our final respects”.

Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd is hopeful the service helps bring closure for the families who lost relatives.

“First of all I’d like to say that the Anglican Diocese joins in expressing heartfelt condolences to the families of all who lost loved ones in the hurricane, and we also pray that this service of internment of remains will bring closure and peace to all who have lost loved ones,” he said.

“And finally, we pray for the souls of these departed individuals – for the repose of their souls – knowing that although they are now separated from us, they are never separated from the almighty God who first created them.”

Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder also offered his support and condolences to those still in grief.

“Every life, no matter the circumstance of its conception or its demise, is sacred,” he said.

“And so, as we bring to burial all those who perished as a result of Hurricane Dorian, we respect that sacredness of life and we bring them to burial in the most respectful, decent and honorable way.

“At the same time, we express our sincerest condolences to their relatives and friends whose pain and their losses we can never imagine. We join with all the surviving family and friends in commending the deceased to our loving God, who is the source and completion of all our lives.

“May the Lord grant them eternal rest in his presence.”

The 55 Hurricane Dorian victims on Abaco will be individually interred. Forensic DNA profiling analysis is ongoing. The Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) said it has been advised that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, laboratories have shifted priorities.

Despite some delays within the operations of laboratories internationally, the Royal Bahamas Police Force has indicated that collaboration with a highly recognized laboratory, very skilled in dealing with DNA sampling, is proving good results. It is anticipated that receipt of some results is expected soon. The analysis of the samples proved very difficult and challenging, according to the DRA. Hence, it said more specialized DNA analysis methods were sought, which impacted the ability to provide closure to families in a timelier fashion.

The DRA also said it was advised by Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez that best practices have been used in number identification of each set of remains. The remains are numbered, the sealer caskets are numbered and the graves will be numbered with weatherproof plates. This system will assist in providing certified death certificates. Those numbers match the DNA sampling of each decedent. When the forensic exercise is complete, each family will be afforded the choice of family memorialization.

The board of directors, executive management and staff of the DRA wish to extend condolences to all who continue to mourn loved ones lost during Hurricane Dorian. They want to assure the residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama of their most persistent efforts to restore and reconstruct impacted communities.

Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019. It was the strongest storm on record to hit The Bahamas.

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