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‘I try not to think about it’

It was just over a year ago that Brent Lowe, 50, carried his disabled adult son on his shoulders through chest-deep water to find safety, as Hurricane Dorian pounded the Abacos.

Lowe has been blind for years.

“Personally, I just try not to think about it,” he said yesterday.

“I just try to move ahead. I kind of put that in the past and that’s where I want it to stay.

“I don’t even like to think about it.”

Last year, Lowe, his son and his neighbors, who had sought refuge with him after their home was compromised earlier, were crowded in a bathroom, when the roof of the house blew off. Lowe knew they had to leave.

But his son, who was 24 at the time, has cerebral palsy and cannot walk. So, Lowe put him on his shoulders, and holding onto his neighbors, they began their journey through the storm surge to the nearest building still standing.

Lowe said he sheltered in another neighbor’s home until a bus picked them up the following day and took them to a shelter.

Because his life depends on regular dialysis treatment, Lowe was evacuated to New Providence quickly compared to many others.

He said he didn’t dream he would still be in Nassau a year later. All of his children, including his disabled son, he said, are back on Abaco and doing well. But he has no idea when he’ll be able to return.

“I had no idea it would be this long,” he said.

“I had no idea I’d still be in Nassau now.”

Lowe said he cannot return to Abaco until he can receive dialysis treatment there.

“All my children are home now,” he said.

“But I can’t go home until the kidney center opens on Abaco because I’m on dialysis.”

He said when he went back for Father’s Day – his first visit to the island following Dorian – he didn’t want to leave again. 

“It’s hard, you know, because I really miss home,” he said.

“But I’m doing alright because I’m staying with relatives and they’re taking good care of me, but I really miss home.”

Lowe said the state that Abaco is in is a disappointment, but said he knows the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the slow recovery pace.

“I’m kind of disappointed, but I guess there’s nothing anybody could do with the pandemic,” he said.

“It just brings along with it its own rules and you’ve just got to abide by them to stay alive.”

At least 76 people died in Hurricane Dorian. Many remain missing. 

Many Dorian survivors were still homeless, and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the already-delayed reconstruction efforts. Non-governmental organizations that were on the ground since the immediate aftermath of the storm were forced to pack up and leave due to the uncertainty.

Government finances, already strained from the hurricane, took a severe hit when COVID-19, and restrictions put in place to stem its spread, brought the economy to a halt.

A year later, many on Abaco and Grand Bahama are still living in tents and non-repaired homes. Electricity has not been fully restored, and where it has been, it remains unreliable.

While Abaco remained COVID-free for the first few months of the pandemic, as of yesterday, 71 cases were recorded on the island.

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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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