Coronavirus pandemic has slowed Bahamas recovery efforts following destruction of Hurricane Dorian

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – As the Bahamas continue to recover one year after Hurricane Dorian slammed the Abaco Islands, they are being met with another challenge.

When COVID-19 forced the Bahamas to shut down, it slowed down the rebuilding efforts, but also left many without jobs. The Bahamas have some of the toughest lockdown measures.

Wilbert “Willy” Odepus with Idea Relief was personally affected by the storm. His father died during Dorian and he lost his mom shortly after. He has turned that grief into helping others.

There are major challenges. There are people living in tents as they wait for homes to be rebuilt, while others still don’t have electricity. Every week Willy and others with Idea Relief along with World Central Kitchen are distributing food to thousands of people.

But as we know here in South Florida, a powerful storm causes such havoc, it takes years to recover.

And Dorian was expensive, costing $3.4 billion in damages, with Abaco suffering 87 percent of the damage.

While things were moving along in the Bahamas, they were hit with a major roadblock: COVID-19.

Just as businesses reopened, they were shut down as the Bahamas issued some of the strictest lockdown measures.

The Bahamas currently has just over 2000 active COVID-19 cases and a recent surge forced even tougher lockdown measures to contain the spread.

Paula Miller with Mercy Corps has been in Grand Bahama since the storm passed.

She’s been focused on economic relief and helping businesses to reopen, which now with the novel coronavirus, forced all businesses to restructure.

“It’s a very stressful time and you can feel it,” Miller said.

Mercy Corps also making sure Grand Bahama has a fresh water system running, since the old water system was damaged after the storm.

But while things may be in slow motion, they are moving forward.

Help isn’t going anywhere.

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