Many left homeless after Bahamian government demolishes homes in Abaco Islands after Dorian

Hurricane Dorian was not only the most powerful storm to ever hit the Bahamas, but it was the most costly.

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas – Hurricane Dorian was not only the most powerful storm to ever hit the Bahamas, but it was the most costly.

As a result, many were left homeless and today, there are people still without a place to call their own.

A community made up of mostly Haitian immigrants began settling in a plot of land in the Abacos, trying to rebuild their lives.

But the government says this is illegal and they are demolishing those homes.

The United Nations is now getting involved, calling this a human rights issue.

“Everybody is like in a state of shock right now,” one woman told Local 10 News after the hurricane swept through the islands. “We lost everything, so right now we just stay in survival mode right now.”

“Everything in Abaco is totally destroyed. It looked like we were bombed,” one man said.

[FROM THE ARCHIVES: Local 10′s Jenise Fernandez recounts Abaco Islands devastation after Hurricane Dorian]

One of the hardest hit areas was in a community known as the “Mudd” in Marsh Harbour that is mostly made up of Haitian immigrants.

The community was destroyed as it received some of the worst storm surge on the island and families were then forced to find a new home.

With nowhere to go, they started building their own houses.

Many Haitian immigrants who fled the Mudd now call a place known as the “Farm” home. It is located about two miles north of Treasure Cay.

There’s no electricity or sanitation, but they make the most of it.

But there’s another more pressing challenge.

The land is owned by the government and the homes were all built without permits. Because of that, the government is putting up signs on homes, ordering people to vacate the premises because the home will be demolished.

But there are dozens of homes in the area, which has become a neighborhood.

Adeline Jean Louis has been sleeping in any home there that will welcome her because she couldn’t find work after an injury. She’s now selling food to make ends meet.

“There’s never been assistance for her,” one man said.

Fanord Innozert has been trying to get a work permit after living in the Bahamas for 30 years. He is finally in the process of getting one.

And Mary Louise Francois, who has lived in the Bahamas most of her life and has nine children who were all born there, had to get a work permit through her daughter.

“How they treat me, I don’t like it,” she said.

The demolition process has already begun.

We received several videos showing displaced people watching their homes being flattened.

Deputy Prime Minister Desmond Bannister said he is following the law.

After Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas Supreme Court issued an injunction that any existing so-called “shanty towns” could not be destroyed, but anything built after Dorian would be considered unlawful.

“They’re building them without permits. That means they don’t have proper electrical facilities, and you know we’ve had fires in shanty towns before, they do not have proper sanitation facilities, and so we have feces in the water table in the Bahamas,” Bannister said.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is taking notice and urging the Bahamian government to halt all planned demolitions.

Experts say the community houses thousands.

In a statement, the UN said in part, “This is scheduled to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening to expose an already vulnerable minority to all kinds of risks for their health and safety. Most of these people have nowhere else to go. If their homes are destroyed, they are at serious risk of falling into homelessness and extreme poverty.”

“I have to ensure that Bahamians are safe, that they’re protected,” Bannister said.

So it raises the question: Where is home?

“Nowhere to go after the hurricane. You know, where to go? So people are trying to find place to live,” Francois said.

The Bahamas Department of Social Services has come forward, saying those who are evicted can seek help within the department, without fear.

Also, there are about 30 homes in the Farm that will not be demolished as they’ve been grandfathered in before the injunction.

CLICK HERE to view and download our 2021 Hurricane Survival Guide.

About the Author:

Jenise Fernandez joined the Local 10 News team in November 2014. She is thrilled to be back home reporting for the station she grew up watching. Jenise, who is from Miami and graduated from Florida International University, also interned at Local 10 while she was in college.