2 years after Dorian, Abaco community still recovering

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since Hurricane Dorian. And Local 10 News was there for the Cat 5 storm.

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.

Marsh Harbour looked like a war zone Monday after it received a second lashing by Hurricane Dorian, Local 10 News reporter Jenise Fernandez said.

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.

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

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.”

[ALSO SEE: After Dorian and COVID, Bahamas eager to welcome you back]

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.

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.