Teen who survived Dorian says Abaco is the only place that feels like home

Dondre Pinder was lost for words yesterday as he reflected on the trauma he was left with after his near-death experience during Hurricane Dorian one year ago.

“It’s still a bugging topic,” he said.

He paused, then took a deep breath.

“Even though it is already gone and over with, it still brings up a lot of emotions just thinking about it.”

The 19-year-old said he still has nightmares about the storm, which devastated large portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

“That puts me into a depression that I don’t think no one should experience in life,” he said.

“Today, I am still not the same. I still think about it daily. Those things really haunt my mind. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget that.”

Pinder, who lived in Dundas Town, Abaco, at the time, escaped through a bedroom window while his house collapsed during the storm.

“It started off with something coming through the shutter and breaking the window,” he said.

“From that happened, it’s like more breeze came in and turned everything upside down. From the window blew out, next came the ceiling falling in. After an hour of that, the house just had enough. We all had to get out, whether through the door or through the window.”

Along with his older brother, Pinder fought to survive Dorian, but everywhere they went was already compromised.

He said he remembered trying to make his way into Marsh Harbour for safety, but the journey became a life-or-death situation.

“We were able to drive the car for a short period, but eventually we had to get out and swim,” Pinder said.

“When your mind is focused on surviving, you don’t really see the people. But as I moved through the water, it started to get packed with living people and dead people.

“The part about swimming through the dead people didn’t bother me until I started to swim past people I knew or grew up with. It hurt knowing they wouldn’t be able to swim with us to the complex because their time had expired.”

The survivor told The Nassau Guardian, “It was more than just debris. It was people I knew, animals, pieces of cars, pieces of houses.

“That was the deal-breaker,” he said.

He was left with almost nothing after the storm.

“I ran out of the house with a bunch of stuff. I tried to save everything,” Pinder said.

“The only thing I was left with in reality was my passport and New Testament pocket-sized Bible.”

The scene was a horrifying one, washing many lives away and leaving some homeless.

Dorian claimed the lives of at least 76 people and left 279 missing.

Pinder said one month after relocating to Nassau, he saw some light at the end of the tunnel.

“Nassau was congested at the time, so I couldn’t find a job. I left,” he said.

“I went to Eleuthera for three months. I was working at a resort.”

Pinder now lives in Marsh Harbour, where he is a rapper and also works at an auto repair shop.

He said he could not fight the urge to return home.

“I couldn’t keep away from Abaco,” he said.

“This is the only place I know. This is the only place I’m comfortable with life.”

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Italia Clarke

Italia Clarke joined the Nassau Guardian in August 2020. Clarke covers national, human interest and social issues. Education: University of The Bahamas, BA in Media Journalism

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