Rereading this 3 weeks later…..I was very chatty, had so much going on in my head and heart. I must write when that happens. So I did….a lot! It is a bit scattered but just what I was dealing with then. I was writing before I saw and experienced. 3 weeks later, have seen, have hugged and have cried with many………
Oct 8- my hubbys 67th birthday! We plan to drive south today. I almost just want to stay in our little safe haven here but we need to check on our shipment. It will be bad they say. Very bad. Flooding and damage past Grays only 10 miles south begins. That is where we would go for Friday night happy hours to hang out with our gang at Midway Inn. I know he had flooding- he always does. Past that it will only get worse. Many homes and small businesses are close to the mangroves and the tidal surge caused as much if not more of the damage that the hurricane did. We have heard of 8 ft of water down in Scrub Hill at Swamp Thing. Not sure if anyone can get past there yet. We also have heard that you cannot go past Clarence Town south yet the road is so flooded and even broke up. But more on that later. The last check on the internet while on the ferry I saw that Deadmans BTC- our phone company- has hooked up internet to sit in the parking lot and use so people can get word out to family or order supplies. So I writing this early this morning in hopes of copy and paste quickly and sending. Not sure how good the connection will be. If it is good then I will try to post some pictures. They do not even begin to show the destruction. I won’t post any of our place- it is fine. Solar hooked right up, fridge ran too and water pump came right on. We can’t complain about all the up rooted coconut trees, plants and mess. We are blessed and feel guilty with our power- there is still no power but BEC is working all up and down the highway fixing snapped off poles and pulling power lines. They hope to have Salt Pond done this week. The sweet sound of generators running up and down the highway. I used to think that sound was annoying but not now……….Ok enough chatter. I have to be done with this by sunrise, we have to begin clean up in the early morning. It gets very hot here by 11 so we do inside things or have been down helping others clean their mess. With no TV or internet we watch the stars for a bit after sunset but by 8 have been in bed sleeping so wonderfully! 2 green flashes already BTW!
Monday 5th Oct 4 a.m. Finally going home. My happy place, Long Island Bahamas. But it is a very sad, devastated place right now. I don’t know what to expect. My emotions feel like when I was going to start my period years ago! CRAZY! But I hang onto all God has spoken to my heart and walk in faith of what HE will do and who HE is NOT what I feel. I WILL WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT!
Fight into Nassau was on time – which as many of you know for Bahamas Air was a sign from God himself!!!!! We only got 120 days from immigration and that was after about 20 minutes of talking with a supervisor. Yes, John asked for the full 210. We tried to even explain about going to Long Island and don’t know how the roads will be even in 3 months to get out to commissioner or immigration on the island to renew but he didn’t buy it. He cared, he really thought about it but finally just took us to his super. Customs waved us thru with our 3 large and 2 carry on suitcases. We checked with both airlines that fly into Long Island and “No we are not going this afternoon.” Bahamas Air only flies into Deadmans airport and that being badly flooded, no one knows how long it would be. One stop, not quick, at our bank right in the airport because who knew how long before ours would be open on our island?
A nice taxi lady took us way over to Potters Cay dock to the fast ferry that leaves on Monday afternoon and gets into Simms Long Island on Tues. This would be the fastest way of travel and sort of a new adventure for us so what the heck?!! We were very early but I wanted to make sure to get on the boat. I did not want to stay in Nassau if I didn’t have to. With all our luggage we couldn’t leave the area- they didn’t board till 2. As we sat and watched them loading the boat we understood why they couldn’t take our luggage early. They were receiving pallets. Cars with people going to LI, semi-trailers. It was like watching ants work. Of course John thought he could better organize them!
Time passed quickly as many who came to get on the boat we knew. If we didn’t by the time we landed on Long Island 18 hrs later we knew them all! Long Islanders are very friendly and many were going to check on family. Everyone had a story to tell and wanted to know ours. They could tell we weren’t locals by all our luggage! There are no cabins but the seats were comfortable and John and I grabbed 3 across each and spread out like everyone else. It would be our bed for the night too. Spirits were high during the exit of Nassau even though we were almost 3 hours late in departing. The snack area sold plenty of soda, beer, hot dogs and chips.
While we waited to get on the ferry John had walked down to where all kinds of stands sold vegetables, fresh conch and fish or cooked food. He brought us a large conch salad which was part of our lunch that we finished for dinner. later on the boat many were eyeing it in envy! I made chicken salad before we left Naples and that was our lunch on Monday, dinner and became our breakfast Tues morning. YUM! I think I won’t be making chicken salad for a few months!
We met the young man whose father was the one casualty on Long Island-so far. Reports were that he drowned but he told anyone who would listen that “no way my daddy drown. He live on a hill and he was a fisherman and a diver. He could swim better than any fish in the sea. I shoulda been there. I could have saved my daddy.” He told this over and over again, to anyone who would listen. We now hear he died of a heart attack. The person who told me that is barely 30 herself and she said she felt she was going to have one too.” It was so scary and seemed to never end.” Gloria did a video during the storm to show all the howling and whistling they had to endure for over 30 hours. Enough to make you lose your mind. I now have seen the depression and trauma on my friends faces. Anyone who is a counselor could be useful now too.
Catching the first glimpse of Long Island in the distance the boat became subdued. Almost an hour passed before we landed in Simms. We had barely spoke those last few minutes. But hugs were all around with warm wishes. At the dock I began to hear raised voices. “What you mean you don’t have anything for us in the north? All those planes landing in Stella Maris and they don’t give us nothing. They say the south is worse. WORSE? We got needs too”……..Tension was rising. The north has power we hear and has no idea how bad the south was hit. They have no way of knowing. Many have never been to the south. It is some of our favorite beaches! Don’t know if we will even get to them this year at all. Doesn’t matter. Thankfully a friend was at the dock to get a generator so he carried us home. I had no idea how to reach anyone on island to tell them we were coming on the boat. John went with the flow very well. NOT knowing how to get from the dock to our house is something he usually would have to have planned. But also knowing how Long Island works- stand on the side of the road and give a slight wave down, someone will stop and carry you as far as they are going. Even the school bus will pick you up!!!
Speaking of useful- there are so many needs. So much repair and clean up to be done. Rebuilding too of course but just the cleanup that someone with little talent or skill could be put to work. SO TO ALL WHO HAVE ASKED IF I COME CAN I BE USED? YES. A RESOUNDING YES!!!!!! SUPPLIES…..EVERYTHING IS NEEDED- FROM CLOTHES, BEDDING, MEDS, ROOFING FOR SURE. AND WATER!!!
Oh my- the need for water. A couple in Exuma ran their boat over on Monday and brought what bottled water they could put in their 17ft boat. People were desperate. So they got on the fast ferry on our stop in Exuma that morning with a truck loaded with 3 huge barrels of fresh water. Someone in Exuma donated the truck and another donated the water. They are donating their time and energy.
They told of the devastation in the south,”We got past Clarence Town by walking thru the water carrying bottles of water. We heard Dunmores needed everything. 30 people living in the only house left in Dunmores. A very poor area anyway and now they have NOTHING. The only way to get to them is by helicopter landing in the south end and walking to them. NOT an easy walk.”
A couple I know who live down that way had gotten up before day break and began walking to get to the husbands boat. It was they only one left standing-untouched from the storm. They walked in water for hours. She was interviewed by the crew that came in to assess the needs and damage and she was pleading for help. “Please come, send anything. Send everything. These people are desperate. They had little before and now they have nothing. They need baby items, medication, water. OH THE NEED FOR JUST WATER LET ALONE FOOD” I wished I could have shared the video and maybe many of you saw it. Can’t remember!
One couple here in salt Pond, just down the road from us a bit, lost their home. They literally ran for their lives in their underwear! They live right on the beach. The surge from a high high tide-that comes with the full moon which just passed- and wind from the hurricane at over 140mph coming from that side of the island-usually comes from the east side- but this one came from the south. That meant the winds would be circling from the north west. Totally different from usual- if there is any usual with a hurricane! That said when the water started to rise it came fast. Many stay in their homes during the storm and hope for the best. That is how deaths occur. Charlie- who lost his home- told us” I ran out the back door in my underwear”. The surge blew in the front windows and sliding doors. I stood in the living room with seaweed at my feet. It rose at least 4 ft. The toilet was under water. They are trying to clean up but his wife is finally conceded to fly back to her daughters in Fl. She had her beautiful smile when I came in to hug her saying” It is all good Penny, it is all good” She is traumatized and needs to go.Their yard looks like they are drying out clothes and furniture. NO. That is where the storm pushed it all!!! A few houses down Cheryl has 2 boats- 2 BIG boats in her front yard. Fishing boats are all up on dry land. Many fishermen lost their homes and now their only way of providing for their family is gone.
We still want to hike out Indian Hole Point Rd. Tim and Sue are there and as are a German couple. No one has seen them but we have learned there is 4 ft or more of water . We saw lights on at Tim’s last night so we know they are fine just no reason to hike out in all that water. He built high so I am sure the house is fine too. The Germans are on the beach and I am worried…….just doing things one at a time so today we hope to hike out there. But we do need to go south too…….
Damage is one thing here but the hearts of the people are in need of healing and care. Their eyes are glazed. Their smiles are pasted. “I just want to climb back into my bed. I have no appetite. I can’t believe this happened. It still feels like a dream…..
We are living like we did 20 years ago when we first started coming here- no internet, no phone, no electric. Well we do have solar! We only have the radio to hear anything. Ours doesn’t pick up very good-very scratchy but Gregory said “turn it on man. Listen to it, there may be another storm out there!” But one of the biggest problems is that radio station plays live political chatter but very little news about weather. Sad to say they are saying right now on the radio that the little news they broadcast about this storm caused most of the problems. Of course the gov’t won’t agree. It is a gov’t run station!! THE GOOD NEWS IS……we hear 10-15 planes/helicopters go over every day!!! We had a large barge come into Salt Pond Tuesday from Britain!!! Big cranes and machines on it as well as supplies. Relief is here and getting to the people. The gov’t is just beginning to respond. ALL THE RELIEF SO FAR HAS BEEN BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU!!! ……..heading out to yard to stand big trees back up and tie/secure. Can’t even know where to begin….so will just start……