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'You can smell death': Treasure Cay questions how to rebuild after Dorian 'You can smell death': Treasure Cay questions how to rebuild after Dorian
(about 5 hours later)
Visitors to Treasure Cay in the Bahamas used to enjoy a traditional dish of steamed grouper with jasmine rice and coleslaw prepared by executive chef Antone Dames.Visitors to Treasure Cay in the Bahamas used to enjoy a traditional dish of steamed grouper with jasmine rice and coleslaw prepared by executive chef Antone Dames.
“I’d do anything for that now,” Dames said, contemplating whether he has a long-term future here.“I’d do anything for that now,” Dames said, contemplating whether he has a long-term future here.
Bahamian evacuees find welcome in Florida but politics dog their presenceBahamian evacuees find welcome in Florida but politics dog their presence
The 40-year-old and his family were in their condominium last week when Hurricane Dorian tore into Abaco Island with fearful velocity. He recalled: “At about three or four in the afternoon, the bottom window blew out and the wind tried to pull my family outside. I was holding my wife’s hand and she was holding our son’s hand; they were off their feet and in the air for at least 10 minutes. My arm still hurts. We went to the bathroom and the whole roof came off. I was as scared as hell. I thought I was going to die.”The Italian bistro that Dames opened last year was destroyed by the storm and now he does not know what his future holds – or where it will be. “We put a lot of work into it and it’s gone, just like that. Now I’m going to start my whole life over. Start at the bottom,” he said.His wife, Martha, 40, took their traumatized 11-year-old son Antwoine to Nassau, the Bahamian capital. But on Tuesday Dames was at the local airport awaiting delivery of supplies including food, water and batteries. He said there is a plan to rebuild Treasure Cay, but he is waiting to see what terms he is offered before making a decision.The 40-year-old and his family were in their condominium last week when Hurricane Dorian tore into Abaco Island with fearful velocity. He recalled: “At about three or four in the afternoon, the bottom window blew out and the wind tried to pull my family outside. I was holding my wife’s hand and she was holding our son’s hand; they were off their feet and in the air for at least 10 minutes. My arm still hurts. We went to the bathroom and the whole roof came off. I was as scared as hell. I thought I was going to die.”The Italian bistro that Dames opened last year was destroyed by the storm and now he does not know what his future holds – or where it will be. “We put a lot of work into it and it’s gone, just like that. Now I’m going to start my whole life over. Start at the bottom,” he said.His wife, Martha, 40, took their traumatized 11-year-old son Antwoine to Nassau, the Bahamian capital. But on Tuesday Dames was at the local airport awaiting delivery of supplies including food, water and batteries. He said there is a plan to rebuild Treasure Cay, but he is waiting to see what terms he is offered before making a decision.
Twenty miles north of Abaco’s biggest town, Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay boasts a luxury resort with a beach rated one of the best in the world. The rich own second homes here and there are golf courses and tennis courts. One tennis net is twisted but still up and many beachfront villas survived Dorian relatively unscathed. It is still possible to stand on their decks overlooking the turquoise ocean and imagine paradise.But as another plane load of people departed Treasure Cay’s modest airport, the daunting, multi-year, multibillion-dollar challenge of how to rebuild – and even whether to rebuild – Abaco and other affected Bahamian islands is looming large.Jim Keady, an American volunteering for the Humanitarian Aid and Rescue Project, said: “This is just as bad as any war zone that one might see. Everywhere you walk into communities that were hardest hit, you can smell death.” Twenty miles north of Abaco’s biggest town, Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay boasts a luxury resort with a beach rated one of the best in the world. The rich own second homes here and there are golf courses and tennis courts. One tennis net is twisted but still up and many beachfront villas survived Dorian relatively unscathed. It is still possible to stand on their decks overlooking the turquoise ocean and imagine paradise.But as another planeload of people departed Treasure Cay’s modest airport, the daunting, multi-year, multibillion-dollar challenge of how to rebuild – and even whether to rebuild – Abaco and other affected Bahamian islands is looming large.Jim Keady, an American volunteering for the Humanitarian Aid and Rescue Project, said: “This is just as bad as any war zone that one might see. Everywhere you walk into communities that were hardest hit, you can smell death.”
Traveling with the NGO Team Rubicon UK on Tuesday, the Guardian witnessed how a major bridge had collapsed into an inlet, plunging giant chunks of concrete below water and twisting steel barriers out of shape. In the surrounding area vehicles have been spun upside down, trees broken like twigs and power cables snapped.Speaking at the Cooper’s Town community clinic, Keady, 47, commented: “The infrastructure is completely clobbered. All the electricity has gone, the water’s gone and the other thing is that the people are gone. You have so many people who have left the island that we now have another wave of climate refugees.“I did a ride around yesterday with one of the top guys at the ministry of works here just processing what will need to be done: the amount of front-end loaders, bulldozers, mulching machines, cranes. There’s going to have to be some really difficult decisions made by the central government here in the Bahamas on whether or not you rebuild. From what I have seen, you’ve just got to bulldoze a lot of these neighborhoods and then decide, are we going to rebuild something here?” Travelling with the NGO Team Rubicon UK on Tuesday, the Guardian witnessed how a major bridge had collapsed into an inlet, plunging giant chunks of concrete below water and twisting steel barriers out of shape. In the surrounding area vehicles have been spun upside down, trees broken like twigs and power cables snapped.Speaking at the Cooper’s Town community clinic, Keady, 47, commented: “The infrastructure is completely clobbered. All the electricity has gone, the water’s gone and the other thing is that the people are gone. You have so many people who have left the island that we now have another wave of climate refugees.“I did a ride around yesterday with one of the top guys at the ministry of works here just processing what will need to be done: the amount of front-end loaders, bulldozers, mulching machines, cranes. There’s going to have to be some really difficult decisions made by the central government here in the Bahamas on whether or not you rebuild. From what I have seen, you’ve just got to bulldoze a lot of these neighbourhoods and then decide, are we going to rebuild something here?”
Keady suggested that the situation will become unsustainable for residents in seven to 10 days, especially if aid dries up, making evacuation the only option. “I just came from the airport in Treasure Cay. A plane landed, we were unloading medical supplies and there were people running up with their passports begging to get on a plane to anywhere in Florida. And you have to tell them no. It breaks your heart. You’ve got a mother in tears crying for herself and her son, ‘I just want to get him out of here.’ This is the reality facing people here.”Keady, who has been involved in local politics in New Jersey, insisted that global heating was a crucial factor in the category 5 hurricane.Keady suggested that the situation will become unsustainable for residents in seven to 10 days, especially if aid dries up, making evacuation the only option. “I just came from the airport in Treasure Cay. A plane landed, we were unloading medical supplies and there were people running up with their passports begging to get on a plane to anywhere in Florida. And you have to tell them no. It breaks your heart. You’ve got a mother in tears crying for herself and her son, ‘I just want to get him out of here.’ This is the reality facing people here.”Keady, who has been involved in local politics in New Jersey, insisted that global heating was a crucial factor in the category 5 hurricane.
“The surface temperatures of the water are so much higher than they would have been and that’s just fuel for storms that in the past would have moved along and did some damage. We had a storm stall for two days, crushing the Bahamas,” he said.“Donald Trump is a fool with regard to the climate crisis. You don’t have to be a climate scientist; you just need to be paying attention and looking at what is happening.”Although much of Abaco is eerily deserted, and the Treasure Cay community centre lies dark and silent with rows of books and a calendar frozen in August, there is a slow trickle of people into the next door medical centre, where volunteers from Heart to Heart International are providing free treatment.“The surface temperatures of the water are so much higher than they would have been and that’s just fuel for storms that in the past would have moved along and did some damage. We had a storm stall for two days, crushing the Bahamas,” he said.“Donald Trump is a fool with regard to the climate crisis. You don’t have to be a climate scientist; you just need to be paying attention and looking at what is happening.”Although much of Abaco is eerily deserted, and the Treasure Cay community centre lies dark and silent with rows of books and a calendar frozen in August, there is a slow trickle of people into the next door medical centre, where volunteers from Heart to Heart International are providing free treatment.
Wilson Charite, 61, who came to the clinic because of his blood pressure, said of the hurricane: “My house was flooded. The water broke the front door and carried everything out. We had one little ladder inside so we put all the children on the roof. “Everyone was crying. I said: ‘Don’t cry, the roof isn’t going to go away.’ I thought, if the roof goes, all my children will be lost.”His daughter, Wilsonithe, 14, added: “We were on the roof for a night. The house was shaking. It was like the house was going to tumble over. I felt like I was going to die.”Clint Laroda, 60, required attention to his hand after trying to ride out the storm in a beach club. “I was opening the door to get my family out and the hurricane slammed the door and amputated the tip of my finger,” he said. But he remains optimistic about the future of Treasure Cay. “I think it can be rebuilt. I’m a builder, so I’m not going to say no.”In nearby Cooper’s Town, a roadside sign says innocently: “We hope your stay was a very pleasant one.”Wilson Charite, 61, who came to the clinic because of his blood pressure, said of the hurricane: “My house was flooded. The water broke the front door and carried everything out. We had one little ladder inside so we put all the children on the roof. “Everyone was crying. I said: ‘Don’t cry, the roof isn’t going to go away.’ I thought, if the roof goes, all my children will be lost.”His daughter, Wilsonithe, 14, added: “We were on the roof for a night. The house was shaking. It was like the house was going to tumble over. I felt like I was going to die.”Clint Laroda, 60, required attention to his hand after trying to ride out the storm in a beach club. “I was opening the door to get my family out and the hurricane slammed the door and amputated the tip of my finger,” he said. But he remains optimistic about the future of Treasure Cay. “I think it can be rebuilt. I’m a builder, so I’m not going to say no.”In nearby Cooper’s Town, a roadside sign says innocently: “We hope your stay was a very pleasant one.”
A church, library and school appear to have emerged relatively unscathed. Anthony Saunders, 58, who was fixing up his convenience store and petrol station, said he was hopeful the town water supply would be switched on tomorrow. “They’re good people here. They’re resilient. It will take time but it will come back.”A church, library and school appear to have emerged relatively unscathed. Anthony Saunders, 58, who was fixing up his convenience store and petrol station, said he was hopeful the town water supply would be switched on tomorrow. “They’re good people here. They’re resilient. It will take time but it will come back.”
• Team Rubicon UK are working with local agencies in the Bahamas and delivering aid supplies to Abaco and Grand Bahama.
BahamasBahamas
Hurricane DorianHurricane Dorian
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Natural disasters and extreme weatherNatural disasters and extreme weather
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