Amid losing everything, four storm survivors on Friday expressed that they’re determined to move on from the pain and horror of Hurricane Dorian as they continue their hunt for jobs in New Providence.
They were at a job fair on Government High School’s grounds that was organized by Breezes Resort in partnership with dozens of companies opening its doors to accommodate displaced individuals looking for work.
Breezes’ Managing Director Muna Issa said, “It’s very important to help. We all have to live in The Bahamas. It’s very important that everyone has a job.”
Hundreds of hurricane victims flocked to the event where some 500 jobs were up for the taking.
Kiara Adderley, 18, of Murphy Town, Abaco, said her job hunt experience has been difficult.
She said: “Like everywhere you go [to] put in applications [and] resumes, it feels like no one is going to call.”
Adderley said she applied to four companies since relocating to New Providence, but hasn’t landed a job yet.
Back on the island, she said, she worked in commercial business services, which dealt with passport and visa applications.
At this point, Adderley said, she’s willing to work anywhere to bring in some form of income for her family.
She remembered having to stay in a car outside of her home for two hours while watching one of Dorian’s tornadoes hurl debris around her community.
She said she also weathered the storm in her home with her parents and sister as they watched pieces of their ceiling fall around them.
“It’s like the hurricane came through the house instead of out,” she said.
Adderley said that she and her mother slept on a soaking wet couch as the storm continued to dump its torrential rains on the island.
“The sheetrock was just dropping on us,” she said.
Before the storm, Adderley said, she planned to pursue a degree in Nursing this January at Holland College in Canada, but Dorian threw a wrench in those plans.
This devastating turn of events has left the 18-year-old with no choice but to find work in an effort to pay for housing expenses and meet other financial needs for her family.
She said she does, however, intend to commence studies in August next year.
She said: “I’m just going to put my trust in God right now. He’ll make a way.”
Carla Parker, 48, of Murphy Town, Abaco, was made redundant this past Thursday as a line cook at Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club in Great Guana Cay, Abaco.
She said she spent the last few weeks waiting to see if the resort would call her in to work, but she is now ready to find work in New Providence.
“I understand that the place is devastated, and there is nothing for me to actually do,” she said.
“I’m a cook. So, they probably need more hands-on people, who can clean and repair. I’m not one of those persons, and the beach club where I worked was destroyed.
“So, they have to rebuild, and I understand that. When they do rebuild and begin hiring again, I have first preference to reapply, and they will more than likely take us back.”
She said she loved her job at the resort because she had her own station working at a sushi bar.
She said cooking is a gift that she learned from her mother and grandmother, Gertrude and Christine Simms.
Moving forward, Parker said, she is seriously considering enrolling at the University of The Bahamas to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts.
This, she said, will prepare her for when she returns to Abaco.
“Cooking and baking is a part of our lives. It comes easy, and its always been something we were good at. I just need to enhance those skills by getting my degree,” she said.
“Its good to be experienced, but if you don’t have the qualifications to say that you have it, you don’t get the pay that you deserve.”
Ultimately, Parker wants to open her own bakery one day.
She now takes pastry orders on a small-scale, but eventually wants to expand to a traditional brick and mortar setting.
“I feel like I can do it, and God says my gift is in my hands. So, I need to use the gifts that God gave me for myself,” Parker said.
Micheal Frederick, of Marsh Harbour, Abaco, had an opportunity to return to a food store where he was employed for four years, but he refused because he’s more interested in creating new experiences for himself.
Frederick lived in The Mudd, a shantytown in Central Abaco that was reduced to rubble during the monster category-five storm.
He is now living at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium, and said he desperately wants a job so that he can move out of the shelter.
Frederick said: “This is a process. It really takes a lot of time, and I really just want to do the best I can to get out of the shelter and work.”
He said he’s been on the hunt for work since he came to New Providence immediately after the storm.
At this point, he said, he’s looking for anything as he considers himself a professional.
“I feel like if you pay me [and] train me to do a job, I feel like I can do it,” he said.
“I’m young, and I have a lot of stuff to learn. So, basically I just want to focus on learning new things, and I’m very open to new experiences.”
Right now, Frederick said, he’s avoiding returning to Abaco in an effort to preserve his peace.
“I feel like if I go back, and look at the destruction, and from what I heard they’re not making much progress, it would just do something to me as far as mental health [is concerned],” he said.
During the storm, he said, he stayed in a two-bedroom house in Marsh Harbour with one friend and 18 complete strangers.
He said his family members were scattered about the island during the storm.
To this day, Frederick and his family members are separated, but he said he’s confident that they will be reunited once they get back on their feet.
Branden Burrows, 21, of Central Pines, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, was an audio/visual technician before the storm barreled through the island.
His job consisted of installing cameras, TVs, and surround sound systems.
He said he wanted to start his own business, but Dorian forced him to place that dream on the shelf.
Life after the historic storm has been rough, Burrows said, but he refuses to complain as he knows many people died.
He said he was in his apartment during the storm with his mother, girlfriend, and her little sister.
He said that his experience, like many others, was traumatic.
At one point, he said, he thought they all were going to die, but it pushed him to be more of an adult.
Burrows said: “I had to play the man role because I need to make sure that everyone survives.”
After floodwaters creeped into their home, he said, he put his family members in the attic, and risked his life to grab a small boat that drifted nearby amid powerful sea surge and 185 miles per hour winds.
“To be honest, nothing was going through my head at that point,” he said.
“I just was saying that I can’t let my family die. I rather it be me than them. So, I just was focused on trying to get something to help us move from that area.”
Since coming to New Providence, he said, he applied for three jobs with no word from any of the companies thus far.
“I have a family that’s looking up to me to provide for them,” Burrows said.
“So, I can’t depend on anyone to call me back. I have to go out and work.”
He said he is living with a friend and wants to quickly find work so that he can at least help around the house.
He said he believes the hurricane came to show those on the islands that possessions are secondary.
“As it comes, it goes, “ he said.
“Be grateful for what you have. You can’t really look down on anyone. That’s what I realized. It’s been hard, but I can’t complain.”
Burrows said he walked from Marshall Road to the Government High School’s grounds so that he can continue his search for work.
He said he’s not going to stop searching until he’s able to achieve his goals and provide for his family.
While the rate of unemployment dropped nationally from 10.7 percent in November 2018 to 9.5 percent in May 2019, significant challenges with unemployment remain.
At the time of the Labour Force Survey, there were 15,440 people listed as unemployed on New Providence.
Thousands of evacuees have come to the island from Abaco and Grand Bahama. The challenge with finding work and housing is expected to be significant.
Hurricane Dorian shredded large swaths of Abaco and Grand Bahama at the beginning of September.