We must not forget Hurricane Dorian and the devastation it left behind.
It has been nearly five months since Dorian tore through Abaco, Grand Bahama and the surrounding cays.
The Category 5 storm destroyed the majority of structures in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, with its near 20-foot storm surges and wind speeds exceeding 180 miles per hour.
There were miles and miles of debris strewn across the island. Neighborhoods were reduced to rubble. Lives were lost.
Dorian then crept toward Grand Bahama and sat on the island for nearly two days. The devastation visited upon those islands was unseen in a modern Bahamas. Families were torn apart. Thousands were displaced. Economies were shut down instantly. It was a worst-case scenario.
Worst still, were the deaths and reports of the missing.
There are families who are still grieving.
At least 71 people died.
The commissioner of police recently said that 54 people remain listed as missing, though some feel that the number of missing could be more.
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said as much earlier this month.
But the further away the event gets, the foggier the horrors are for some.
The story is no longer daily headline news.
For those on Abaco and Grand Bahama, the situation is crystal clear – they are fighting to start over. For them it is the only news.
Recently, Perspective author Sharon Turner visited East Grand Bahama and found that little movement had taken place.
“Electricity has yet to be restored to the approximately 50-mile stretch of settlements, a critical factor that not only impacts the ability of homeowners to return to a sense of normalcy, but also impacts the willingness of displaced residents to return to their properties on a permanent basis,” she wrote.
“From steady employment, to housing, to building materials, to answers on the government’s way forward for these seminal communities, there is a loud cry for progress nestled within the humble demeanor of residents we spoke to.
“And while strong and present family connections are providing stability and support for some, we encountered others whose current living situations suggest that they are slipping through the cracks.”
She found that people were still living in shelters because their homes were gone.
Many of our brothers and sisters are quietly trying their best to piece their lives together. They’ve no idea where the next meal will come from. They’ve no idea where they will find the building materials to fix their roofs or their walls.
It is important for us to continue to help where we can, whether financially, emotionally or otherwise.
We must not forget our people.
We must not forget men like Adrian Farrington, a 38-year-old father from Abaco who watched as his five-year-old son was dragged away in Dorian’s surge.
We must not forget people like Brent Lowe, a blind man from Abaco, who ventured into the storm with his 24-year-old son, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy and can’t walk, after their roof flew off.
We must not forget the men on Grand Bahama, like Jensen Burrows and D’Sean Smith, who took jet skis, small boats and a bulldozer to rescue families trapped in their flooded homes in Freeport.
We must not forget the missing either, like Dunlock Munnings Jr., 29, of High Rock; J’Vonaje Alejan Forde, 24, of High Rock; Shirlene “Josephine” Pinder-Cooper, 48, of High Rock; Omarion Lawrence Munnings, six years old, of High Rock; and Raphaela “Lavette” Munnings, 53, of High Rock.
We must tell their stories, months later. We must keep their memories alive.