Terror on Grand Bahama

Kendall Culmer, the chief councilor for Freeport, was one of many Grand Bahamians who braved the deadly winds and storm surges of Hurricane Dorian in an attempt to save others.

“Myself and some of my other coworkers from [Grand Bahama] Power were out trying to rescue people,” Culmer told The Nassau Guardian.

While describing the experience, he said, “It’s saddening.”

Culmer continued, “On top of rescuing people, to look and see homes still four or five feet of water in it, it’s very saddening.”

He observed “a lot” of people walking in search of safety as the water started to go down.

“They were starting to evacuate their homes [in the middle of Dorian],” Culmer said.

“They were just trying to get to comfort…some normalcy.”

Many members of the various search and rescue teams left their homes in the middle of the storm because it was “instinct”, according to Rafael Saunders.

As Dorian – the strongest storm to hit the northern Bahamas – ripped Grand Bahama apart, Saunders received a call notifying him that his father and his brother were in need of help.

“I had to go,” he said.

However, the storm prevented him from carrying out his plan.

“I was going to do rescues but I couldn’t because it was flooded,” Saunders said.

“I couldn’t get out my corner. Instinct encouraged me to go out, just instinct. I was going to use my Jeep. When it comes to family, it is what it is. I was going out to get my father and my brother.”

He said the water was about six feet and started “to come into my jeep so I turned around”.

Asked how long his journey would’ve been, Saunders said, “In that storm, it would’ve been probably 30 minutes.”

He said someone else was able to rescue his family.

On Sunday, Dorian – then a Category 5 storm – tore through Abaco, killing five people.

The hurricane had sustained winds exceeding 180 miles per hour as it passed over the island.

Dorian weakened to a Category 4 as it moved over Grand Bahama on Monday.

However, it still wreaked havoc on many residents of the island.

Sarah Kirby, a resident of Freeport, was emotional as she described how she and her family had to escape violent storm surges in a single-storey house.

Her 77-year-old mother and her mother’s friend, who is also in her 70s, were among the four other people in the house with Kirby.

“It was terrifying,” Kirby said.

“I’m not going to lie. It was really scary. I didn’t realize the power of water until I was in it.”

She said it took less than 15 minutes for the water to flood her house.

Kirby said the water was roughly five feet.

“What we did was we had to get into the back of my car,” she said.

“I had reversed it to the house and the rest of the cars were going under. So, what I did was I opened up the trunk and it was fine so everybody climbed in except for Jude and I.

“We took the break off and my friend, Victoria, drove us out.

“Jude and I pushed the car and it kind of floated for a bit but then we got on solid ground and we pushed it out with everybody in it. The house was going under.”

She said she and Jude, who is her housekeeper’s boyfriend, made several trips back to her house to rescue her six dogs.

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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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