MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas – It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since Hurricane Dorian. Local 10 News was here in Marsh Harbour, reporting live, until we lost contact as the eye of the Category 5 storm came through.
We were here for three days before having to evacuate. That’s where our story ended, but for the people who live here, it was just beginning.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas with winds sustained at 185 mph.
We saw roofs torn off buildings, people being rescued in flooded streets — and neighbors willing to jump in to help.
We rode out the storm at the Abaco Beach Resort, finding a safe place to wait it out. Little did we know, Dorian would stick around for days.
Now, for the first time since we evacuated, we’re back in Marsh Harbour, visiting the hotel that provided us and so many others refuge.
“It wasn’t just hotel guests that accommodated this space,” said Brent Ingraham of Abaco Beach Resort. “We had residents from the community.”
The grounds certainly look much different, as major improvements were made.
We first looked at the pavilion where we provided live reports as the storm approached. It crumbled down during Dorian.
“It collapsed. It’s all concrete now,” Ingraham said.
The hotel rooms are remodeled, the pier is back, and the windows throughout the hotel are now all hurricane-proof.
But some places like the lobby didn’t make it through Dorian.
“It is now a check-in center for marina guests,” Ingraham said.
The storm was costly for all of the Abacos. There was an estimated $3.4 billion in damages and losses, and 74 people died, but that number may be much higher as more than 200 are still missing.
Throughout Marsh Harbour, there are reminders of what happened here.
Driving around, you can see homes with no roofs, boats washed ashore, cars smashed and piled on top of each other, and buildings with extensive damage, barely hanging on, left abandoned.
Willy Odeus of IDEA Relief, a lifelong Bahamian who has been helping with recovery efforts, says there are still plenty of areas in need of restoration.
On one hand, it’s creating plenty of jobs. But finding a home is where the real challenge is.
“Construction is booming,” Odeus said. “As far as housing, there is not enough housing.”
Mostly Haitian immigrants who lived in an area called The Mudd saw their community washed away.
Now they’re resettling, building new homes in an area about two miles north of Treasure Cay now known as The Farm. But because the homes were built without permits, the government is tearing them down.
“Nowhere to go,” said Mary Louise Francois, who lost her home in Dorian. “People are trying to find a place to live.”
It certainly hasn’t been easy. People here are reminded daily of Dorian’s wrath. They know it’ll take years to fully recover.
But for those who call Marsh Harbour home, they choose to look ahead, hoping to never experience something like this again.
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