As she watched the roof of her apartment lift up with a surge of water entering through her front door, Vandea Stuart, 42, a resident of Marsh Harbour, Abaco, said she thought she was going to die when Hurricane Dorian raged over Abaco on September 1, 2019.
“It got real for me when I saw the roof in my bedroom lifting up and slamming back down,” Stuart said.
“I knew the roof was coming off. When I looked in my bathroom ceiling, the roof began to collapse in the tub. The water outside was coming in like a big wave. I was alone. I thought I was going to drown in my apartment.”
Over 70 people died during the storm and 279 people are listed as missing.
Stuart said the storm destroyed her apartment.
Her only hope was her employers at the Abaco Club on Winding Bay, who provided much-needed relief, she said.
“They came through for us,” Stuart said.
“They assisted with getting all of their employees off the island.”
Stuart said she is grateful that she is still employed with the resort.
“We reopened shortly after the storm in October,” she said.
“We began accepting guests by the end of October. The resort is located in the southern end of the island, so it did not receive much damage.”
She said the resort housed all of its employees who were severely impacted by the storm.
“All the employees had somewhere to stay,” she said.
“Most of the employees at the club practically lost everything. They converted an area on the property to a trailer park that housed employees and their families. They provided groceries and stipends. Throughout the entire process, they assisted us until we were back on our feet.”
After Dorian destroyed the place she called home, her landlords were not compelled to rebuild.
“Initially my landlords had to relocate to Nassau,” she said.
“They were saying that they were not going to rebuild, but they have since moved back to Abaco and began rebuilding their home as well as the apartment I was renting. I am looking forward to moving back to my place soon.”
Stuart said although some buildings are still damaged, Abaco is progressing towards complete recovery and is rebuilding stronger than ever.
“On any given day, we have bumper-to-bumper traffic, which means a lot of people have come back home,” she said.
“There’s a lot of construction going on so it’s a lot of jobs. Dorian created a lot of opportunities amidst the chaos. Everywhere you look, there’s rebuilding. We are getting there. We are looking forward to a new and better Abaco.”