Many in Abaco still struggling

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February 23, 2022

MURPHY TOWN, Abaco – Patrick McDonald is living in a tent in the ruins of his father’s home in Murphy Town, Abaco. 

The home has no roof and no windows.

While many residents in Murphy Town, Abaco, were able to repair or rebuild their homes after Hurricane Dorian devastated portions of Abaco, others are still in need of help.

McDonald, 55, is still grappling with the trauma he endured during Dorian.

He almost lost his leg in the storm, he said.

But he is surviving.

When he spoke with The Nassau Guardian last week, McDonald was at his cousin’s home, eating lunch. The food was so hot, steam rose from the rice and meat.

He pointed to a home down the road.

“I still living in it just like that,” he said.

“I live in a tent in there. The place has no roof.”

He said help has been scarce.

“That’s why I don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

“When the sunshine I shall see. Ain’t no one helping you.”

“How does that make you feel,” The Guardian asked.

He said, “That’s why I don’t want to talk about it because if I feel it, hell will get in me.”

McDonald showed the twisting scars on his leg. He can’t work, he said.

He put in an application for a temporary dome from the government but never received one.

“They said it was coming but it never reach yet,” he said.

“But I’m alive and still breathing.”

Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) Chairman Alex Storr recently said that domes are just sitting in trailers, still with the shippers. He told reporters that nearly $1 million in demurrage has been accumulated on 48 shipping containers containing domes.

McDonald says he prays to help ease his mind. Smoking cigarettes and rum also ease the burden, he said.

The government’s reconstruction efforts on Abaco and Grand Bahama have made headlines in recent weeks after the work of the DRA and some of the contracts it entered into came under scrutiny.

Storr has suggested that taxpayers have not been receiving value for money.

Abaco is bustling with activity and rebuilding. In Marsh Harbour, work was ongoing on several buildings. 

Many residents who left after the storm, are now returning home. 

But some are finding it difficult.

After Dorian, McDonald said he was airlifted off of Abaco.

When he looked down at the island he called home all his life, he said he “thought the world had ended”.

“That’s a day I’ll never forget,” he said.

“If I hear the wind blow too hard now …  I look around. That’s still going to be with some of us.

“Some will get over it and some won’t.”

His cousin, Shelia Campbell, 64, who is disabled, did not want to speak. Her home, a purple one-bedroom dwelling still has work that needs to be done.

Casey Cooper, 63, Campbell’s boyfriend, said he does what he can to help repair the home.

Asked if the government rendered any assistance to Campbell, Cooper said, “They sent us some papers [to sign] but no one showed up yet. It’s supposed to be for materials and odds and ends.

“They said it will take a little while but it’s been almost three years.”

Yolanda Levy, who lives next door, was able to have her roof fixed through an NGO and with her personal funds and other help, was able to repair the inside of her home.

But the effort drained her savings.

“To me, it’s like you’re starting all over,” she said.

“You have to take all the baby steps all over again trying to get back to where you once were.

“It’s hard. It’s hard. For me, before Dorian you had a little savings, so you were making it day by day and not feeling the heavy pinches of the price going up and things changing around you. Now that all of that has deflated, you starting from the bottom coming up, it’s hard.

“I go back to what my grandmother taught me, making flower pap, making things work to feed my children.”

Levy has two children.

She’s found it hard to find work, she said. Men, she said, have an easier time because of the construction jobs.

For now, she’s reselling seafood.

“I don’t care how they try to pretty it up, Abaco still needs a lot help,” she said.

“The poor people ain’t getting the help. It’s just fluctuating in one sector. One sector of people is getting everything … and the people who really, really need it, like these communities like Murphy Town and Dundas Town, they need the help and they aren’t getting it.

“If you aren’t here to fight for yourself or you are not a person that is outspoken and go out there and hustle, you’ll get left behind.”

She added, “A lot of us still need help.”

A little deeper into the community, The Guardian met Coletta McKenzie.

McKenzie’s home was destroyed by Dorian, leaving behind only the foundation.

She lives in a temporary dome on the property with her son and daughter.

She said the dome does not have electricity but does have running water.

Her cousin lives on the property. He’s sleeping in a tent. Her brother is doing the same thing.

She does not work and said she’s been struggling. She is disabled.

Her son, who is in grade 11, helps her a lot, she said, but she said no one else has been helping her make it.

“Sometimes you feel down but you have to get over it,” she said.

Her son, Max, said it’s been a challenging two years.

“It’s been really hard to see my house go down and you work so hard to build it,” he said.

He is used to having his own room, he said. Now, he shares space with his mom and sister in the dome.

His mother noted that mold grows inside the dome.

“I have to keep cleaning the mold,” she said.

“It’s stressful. I have to use detergent and bleach to keep the mold down.”

Max, who plays basketball and is a fan of the Los Angles Lakers, hopes that the family can rebuild their home.

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 02/23/2022    Category : Hurricane, About Bahamians, Nassau Guardian Stories

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