Fifty-five unidentified bodies that are believed to be Hurricane Dorian victims remain in a trailer on Abaco eight months after the storm wreaked havoc on that island, according to Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) Managing Director Katherine Forbes-Smith.
Forbes-Smith told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that although the impact of COVID-19 has affected the planned burial of those bodies, the authority is hoping to have them buried this month.
“There are 55 remains in that trailer, and what we’ve been advised is…people know that their family member’s in the trailer, because they knew during the hurricane or after the hurricane bodies were found and those bodies were put in the trailer,” Forbes-Smith said.
“But what has happened is the DNA has not confirmed specifically each body, and so that is why you can’t say who’s who at the moment.
“…But the DRA is trying to bring closure at this point. We understand how important it is for those remains to be buried, but we also want to be very considerate to what family members are communicating to the local pastor in Abaco.”
According to Forbes-Smith, a burial was set to take place on March 28, as part of a National Service of Remembrance to honor those who lost lives during Dorian.
That service was postponed to April 18 and later postponed indefinitely due to the impact of COVID-19.
As part of emergency measures intended to slow the spread of the virus in the country, the government has placed restrictions on funerals whereby only a limited number of close family members and essential mortuary staff are permitted to attend.
“I think we definitely have to be able to do something by the end of May,” Forbes-Smith said.
“But, again, we have to be guided by what the safety rules are and what the Ministry of Health and what the government is saying as well.”
She added, “I’ll be getting the pictures soon of the grave sites. We’re actually preparing the grave sites for 55 separate grave sites…
“In fact, this entire area is going to be designed where it becomes kind of a place, some green space is going to be included, people are going to be able to go and visit loved ones or visit the space.”
Forbes-Smith said the DRA is following “the guidelines put out by the Ministry of Health and what the government of The Bahamas is saying about opening up some of these areas in the community or in the country” and also paying attention to feedback from the Bahamas Christian Council and local pastors on Abaco, to determine how and when the burial will take place.