Storm survivors prepare for holidays away from home

Despite Hurricane Dorian’s devastation, some storm survivors yesterday said that they’re determined to make the best of the holiday season.

Adamae Deveaux-Guillaume, 57, of Murphy Town, Abaco, plans to spend Christmas on New Providence, and said she’s looking forward to spending time with her family.

“I’ve been in Abaco for two months. So, I haven’t seen them,” she said.

“We’ll talk on the phone, but I look forward to just loving them and being with them.

“That’s what the holidays [are] all about– bonding with your family.

“This hurricane has separated so much people. What you’re used to is no longer the norm. So, we have to value this. That’s why I’ve decided to leave everything else behind and try to be here with my children and just try to make this a great Christmas.”

Guillaume said she will be heading back to Abaco in January to continue rebuilding her home.

She said her home collapsed on her during the storm, and she’s grateful to be alive to tell the story.

Guillaume said that she was left with nothing but the foundation of her home after Dorian left the island.

She said that the rebuilding process has been slow but steady.

“There’s still no power in my area, and I don’t have a generator,” Guillaume said.

“I’m just trying to cope with everything that’s going on. I’m not a materialistic person. So, I learned how to improvise as best as I can for now.”

Kendalyn Meadows, 44, of Dundas Town, Abaco, said she couldn’t say where she’s spending her Christmas just yet, but said she’s determined to make the best of it.

“I just want to enjoy the holidays with my grandkids,” she said.

Meadows said since coming to the capital in early September, she has been staying with family members and friends.

She said last Christmas she prepared a hearty meal for her family members, and this year she hopes to do the same.

While she said that living on New Providence has been a struggle, Meadows added that she’s thankful to her children for helping her in her time of need.

“[Many] people can’t find somewhere to stay and [many] people can’t find something to eat, but I thank God for everything,” she said.

“I appreciate everything.”

Melanie Symonette, 57, from Cedar Harbour, Abaco, said she will be spending Christmas with her sister this year, as she said there is nothing to return home to at this time.

She said Hurricane Dorian’s powerful winds left her roof in need of repair, forcing her to relocate to New Providence.

She said her car was also destroyed in the monster Category 5 storm, and she has been coping with all the expenses that come with the rebuilding process.

Asked what she’s most looking forward to this Christmas, Symonette said, “As long as I’m alive, I’m fine. I’ve been through too much, and I’ve seen friends that have lost so much.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time because to go back to Abaco in its current state is just too depressing. There’s nothing to look forward to right now.”

Symonette said her community didn’t take as much damage as Central Abaco during the storm, but she said that once Marsh Harbour is down, the entire island might as well follow suit.

Loretta Boodle, 32, had to relocate to New Providence after the storm, and is waiting patiently to commence the rebuilding process.

She said she has no choice but to spend Christmas on New Providence, but she would prefer to spend it on Abaco.

“I would rather be home for Christmas with my family, knowing that we all will stick together and get through this rough patch than to be here and take what’s going on in [New Providence],” Boodle said.

“The hassle you have to go through to get a bottle of water, it feels like we don’t matter. But to go home with no power and no gas to cook food, it would be a cold Christmas. It will be horrifying.”

Hurricane Dorian decimated large swaths of Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.

Nearly 50 percent of people on Grand Bahama are said to be unemployed after the storm.

Many individuals lost loved ones in the storm, as well as their homes and other properties.

Thousands of evacuees have come to New Providence from both islands, and the challenge with finding work and housing is expected to be significant.

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