The holes in the roof of Dorothea Kemp’s home in Central Pines, Abaco, serve as a constant reminder of how difficult life has been even 10 months after Hurricane Dorian ravaged the island last September.
After having to relocate to Nassau where she lives with her daughter, the 72-year-old woman said life hasn’t been the easiest, but she is grateful to be one of the fortunate ones who has help.
“All the holes still in my roof in Central Pines,” she told The Nassau Guardian. “I still can’t believe it. It’s been rough. It’s been really rough.”
Kemp was one of hundreds who toed a line at New Providence Community Center (NPCC) yesterday morning to receive a care package of groceries expected to last her family seven days.
Every Thursday, NPCC, supported by donors and volunteers who wish to remain anonymous, give the packages to registered families from Abaco and Grand Bahama left displaced by Hurricane Dorian.
But with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic now causing an economic fallout, NPCC has found itself working to accommodate many impacted families.
Michelle Pratt works in the watch department of a local jewelry store and said she’s been surviving off of unemployment benefits from the National Insurance Board (NIB).
“At first it wasn’t bad,” the mother of two said as she sat in her car awaiting her turn to collect her care package.
“But now, I’m not getting a salary and only getting NIB. I’m a single mom. It’s not easy having to provide, pay bills and keep on top of your bills. It’s not easy, but it is what it is. I have to make it happen.”
For Pratt, the uncertainty of when she will get back to work creates an unsettling feeling as she said, “Right now my job is doing curbside and they only called back two people per department. I guess as need be they’ll call more people back to work. But man, it is hard.”
Christiana Olivais, 36, toed the line in her van with the windows down for a few hours as she waited her turn to collect a package that has assisted with feeding her five children for the past few weeks.
“I work in the hotel, but there’s nothing happening,” she said.
“This is really helping me. The food and stuff they’re giving me is good and I have to thank them. I have it really rough, but these are good people and are helping.”
Acting Director of Labour John Pinder has projected the unemployment rate to surpass 30 percent.
So far, NIB has paid over 34,000 unemployment benefit claimants over $60 million, a figure expected to balloon as the government extends the benefits payment for another 13 weeks.
Vehicles wormed throughout the parking lot at NPCC yesterday from the crack of dawn as people affected by both Dorian and COVID-19 sought to get food assistance.
NPCC Pastor Matthew Sweeting said the church has been responding to natural disasters by offering assistance to the community for 18 years, and saw it fitting to provide continued support to those affected with a food donation on a weekly basis.
“People who are stuck here from Abaco and Grand Bahama, they come out here every Thursday and they have to get registered,” he said. “But once they’re on the list then they get fed.
“We give each family enough food to feed a family of six for seven days. We use simple technology like What’s App and we already know you’re coming before you get here. So, even though the lines are long, once you’re registered we know when you’re coming. Then you just come, pull your car up and we put your food in there for you. People like that it’s consistent where they can come every week. It’s just about giving back. If you don’t keep it that simple then people won’t feel valued.”