Man who lost mother and left arm in Dorian to join Christian ministry

The terror of Hurricane Dorian took more than just Erick Auguste’s home.

It took away his mother and his left arm.

Now, Auguste, a 37-year-old native of Abaco, wants to spend the rest of his life in Christian ministry.

“I want to speak for God just as I promised him,” he said.

“I want to do that and spend time with my family.”

Auguste spoke with The Nassau Guardian from his room at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, where he is currently receiving treatment.

Just two weeks before, he was caught in a violent storm surge in Treasure Cay, Abaco.

His voice cracked as he recalled the horrific experience of Dorian – a deadly Category 5 storm that ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama earlier this month.

“Oh Lord,” Auguste sighed.

“It was just a crazy moment, you know?”

He paused briefly.

“We had to evacuate, so I had to hold the two weakest persons in the house which was mom and then my daughter, who is two years old,” Auguste said.

He added, “I told them hold onto me and we’ll go straight up. As they started doing it, that’s when a sharp object just flew off and cut my arm. My mom had my arm and she just [went with the surge].

“She was just going and going and going. We were outside the house in the water trying to get up to higher ground.” 

He described it as “the hardest moment I ever had to face in my whole entire life”. His mother, he said, is presumed dead.

Asked how it felt losing his arm, Auguste said, “The pain was too much. I reached to a point where there was no scale for it anymore. It was just there.”

Auguste said moments after his mother was swept away, “a big wave” then came and carried him farther away from his wife and kids.

“That’s when me and my family separated,” he said.

“At this point, I thought everybody died.”

When asked what was going through his mind, Auguste replied, “I was like, ‘God, why am I still alive?’”

A few moments later, according to Auguste, he began to lose consciousness.

“The water just kept coming…and covering my nose,” he said.

“I started to drown.”

He added, “I was like, ‘God, if it’s your will for me to die right now, let your will be done. But, if it’s not, save me and use me.’”

Auguste said he then heard two voices in his head: one which told him that he would die, and another which told him he would be used “as a vessel to touch hearts”.

He said the experience lasted an hour before he was rescued by his wife.

His family then transported him to the Treasure Cay Fire Station.

However, it was destroyed by the storm.

“There was a white guy who was there,” Auguste said.

“He put me in the ambulance and there was nothing in it, absolutely nothing. [There was] no water, nothing, nothing to help, no drip, absolutely zero.”

Auguste had to endure a long car ride from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour in order to reach the government clinic.

“The guys had a truck in the front with machetes and chainsaws and [were] making a way, making a road to go to Marsh Harbour,” he said.

“That’s where the U.S. Coast Guard airlifted me to Nassau. It took us about three and a half hours to drive from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour.

“I was in really bad pain during the ride. They gave me some painkillers but it still was a lot of pain. It was the roughest ride ever.” 

Auguste spent three days at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) where he underwent surgery before being transferred to Florida.

Asked if he planned on returning to The Bahamas, he said, “It’s too early to tell. At this point right now I’m praying to God. I’m trying to get better right now and recover.”

He added, “I don’t  know where I’m going to sleep or how I’m going to do anything.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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