Tue | Nov 12, 2019

‘I basically lost everything’ - J’can automechanic, family return to see wrecked home after Dorian evacuation

Published:Saturday | September 7, 2019 | 12:14 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican Richard Little poses for a picture with daughter, Mia, and sons Richard Jr (right) and Rayjay.
Richard Little’s damaged second floor.
Home of Richard Little, a Jamaican automechanic in The Bahamas. His home suffered extensive flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Dorian.
Home of Richard Little, a Jamaican automechanic in The Bahamas. His home suffered extensive flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Dorian.
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He left Savanna-la-Mar in Westmoreland for a visit to The Bahamas in 1990, but his stay was made permanent, having met his now wife there.

Richard Little never imagined that the Queen’s Cove, Grand Bahama, home he shared with his wife and three children would become uninhabitable after the passage of Hurricane Dorian this week.

With his home located in a low-lying area, the family was given a mandatory evacuation order before Dorian made landfall in The Bahamas on Sunday.

The family packed what they could and went to an apartment owned by a friend to ride out the storm.

“Oh God! Dorian was an experience like none other! As a child. I experienced Gilbert in Jamaica, I was in the Bahamas for Frances and Jeanne, Tropical Storm Sandy, but this one! It was sumn else ... . If we had stayed home, I’m not sure how that would’ve worked out,” Little told The Gleaner.

He said that the decision to relocate to his friend’s apartment proved to be a wise one as unlike his home, only minor damage was sustained to the roof.

Lost for words

Going back home when Dorian moved away, he saw an image he did not prepare for.

“It was just one a dem wow moments. I didn’t say anything. I was kinda lost for words. My mind went in recovery mode, just trying to figure out how I’ll put it all together again,” Little told The Gleaner. “When I look at the damage around the place, what other people sustained, I really have to consider myself fortunate,” said an optimistic Little.

“My home received extensive damage. To the lower section of my house, I lost all the windows, all the doors, the walls broke down, the stairs broke down. To the upper level, the living room area of the house, the complete floor is missing and all my furniture and appliances. In my daughter’s room, all the ceiling came down. I basically lost everything,” he said.

The Category Five hurricane has claimed several lives – with 43 deaths officially recorded up to yesterday and authorities urging citizens to brace for a significantly higher final count – and more than 13,000 homes have been devastated.

“It was just best to move out and then come back and try to pick up the pieces. If the house decide to blow away, you can’t hold it back,” Little said.

Little left Jamaica as an automechanic and continued his trade in The Bahamas, working with an automobile repair company.

“They received a lot of damage from floodwaters. I lost 95 per cent of my tools that I work with. I had tools at home and I had tools at the shop. Even though we put them up high to secure them, it was just too much water. It just swept everything away,” Little explained.

He said that his family in Savanna-la-Mar has been very worried as news of the devastation grips the world. He is remaining positive about the recovery process.

“I definitely have to start working soon because resources are running low. I didn’t lose my life and any member of my family didn’t lose their life, so that’s a lot to be thankful for ... . It’s a heavy blow for the country, and it’s going to be a long recovery,” Little reflected.

Little and his family will remain at the apartment until their home has been repaired.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com