Haitian pastor won’t abandon Abaco

Despite having lost nearly everything in Hurricane Dorian, Presner Wesley, pastor of Mount Olive Church of God in Abaco, is still working there while his family is in New Providence, because he refuses to abandon the place he calls home.

“The Marsh Harbour area is totally destroyed,” he said.

“My family house, my roof blew off. My church is gone, and the whole community in Marsh Harbour, The Mudd and Pigeon Peas, gone.

“…Everywhere is gone. All the businesses, everything is gone.”

Wesley said three of his congregants died in the storm.

“Three people in my church, so far, passed away, one baby and two women,” he said.

Wesley said he and his family had to be rescued in the middle of the storm after they lost their roof.

“We were at my house in Central Pines when part of my roof blew off, and then the hurricane slowed down,” he said.

“I called for help, and they came and rescued my family and carried my family to the shelter. Since then, I was working with the government agencies.”

Despite his wife’s pleas to leave the island with them, Wesley stayed behind to help.

He has been working with local authorities and foreign aid workers to help recover bodies and clean up.

“My wife said, ‘Baby, let’s leave,’” he said.

“I said, ‘I cannot go anywhere. If I find a way for you all to go, I don’t mind you all leaving.’

“I was thinking to send them here to Nassau and then I stay out there. She said, ‘I’m not leaving without you.’

“I said, ‘Darling, once I get you all safe, I have to think about the other families, whether they survived. How many people lost their lives and are missing and all of that.’”

He added, “A day after the hurricane, I received a call from the president of the Christian Council. So, we were working closely with the government agencies, the different forces. The police and all of us were together to make sure everything was in order.”

Although staying behind to help was one of the most difficult decisions of his life, he knows it was the best one.

“Yesterday, before I left, we were at the morgue,” he said.

“We found four more bodies.

“So, that gave me motivation to say, ‘Thank God I wasn’t leaving, because if I left, who was going to be there for them?’”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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