Two months in, shelter residents face uncertain fate

Lucorbert Emilien, 36, was left in New Providence alone after he lost his father and eight-year-old daughter in Hurricane Dorian.

He and his family members weathered the storm in The Mudd, a shantytown on Abaco, but the violent sea surge was no match for hundreds of residents in that community.

Emilien said his daughter stayed with his father during the storm, but they were trapped in the home and drowned when floodwaters engulfed the area.

His girlfriend, he said, lost her foot in the storm, and was since deported to Haiti.

Two months after the category five hurricane, Emilien spends his days at the shelter on the former Bahamas Academy campus pondering his fate.

He has been unable to locate the bodies of his father and daughter, and he said he has to come to grips with the fact that he may never see them again or conduct a proper burial.

Emilien added that the agony of losing his relatives coupled with being in limbo at the shelter keeps him up at night.

“They never said how long we would be here – how much days, how much month[s], how much year[s],” he said.

“We lost everything in Abaco. Don’t mind if you straight or had work permit. We all felt the shock of the storm. You go back on the road now, and immigration catch you, and send you back to Haiti; you have nothing in Haiti. How can people live?

“That’s a bad thing. The government shouldn’t do that, but this their country. So, I can’t say no, but I know God doesn’t like that. I mean, but if they send me back to Haiti, ain’t no problem. I’m just waiting for the decision.”

Despite all that he has been through over the past two months, Emilien said he tries to find ways to uplift his spirit.

“I have to try to make myself feel good because I can’t replace my dad or my daughter,” he said.

“I have to ask God to do something within me. Sometimes I go to church, and one thing I can say is ‘Thank you, God’ because every day I have life.”

During the storm, Emilien said, he was forced to evacuate his home, where he rode out the storm alone.

Once floodwaters began to rise, he said, he grabbed a ladder and climbed on his roof.

However, within seconds, the refrigerator that he left in the house was on the roof with him, according to Emilien.

He recalled multiple members of his community crying and screaming for help as Dorian ripped through their homes and businesses, but at the time, he was forced to make the decision to save his own life.

Justin Daeelus, 61, said he had been living in Marsh Harbour for 20 years, and the storm has left him feeling “alone in this world”.

Left to rebuild his life after a recent divorce, Daeelus said he often wonders what will become of him after the storm since he has no work and no family to support him. 

“Before the storm, I was just trying to survive, and trying to make it again,” he said. 

“Now with Dorian, he took everything. I have no job, no nothing, and I don’t know what I’m here for.”

He said he also wonders when he will be able to to find a job, considering his age.

“My problem is I want to know when I could start again at 61-years-old,” Daeelus said as he fought back tears.

“I don’t have any family like that. I was married, me and my wife broke up, and she’s in the states. It’s only me.

“When I look at my life, I feel lonely. I don’t have no one, nobody.”

These thoughts, he said, haunt him.

Since the storm, he said, he managed to find out how he can get unemployment benefits at the National Insurance Board, but he has to wait another month to receive them.

Until then, he said, he’s at a standstill, as he cannot make any forward movements without the funds.

Hurricane Dorian left many families and business owners with little or nothing, and at least 67 individuals have been confirmed dead after barreling through Abaco and Grand Bahama.

During a mental health conference last month, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said that this experience is enough to make grown people cry, as he urged individuals to pay attention to the psychological impact of a storm of this magnitude.

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