Tue | Dec 10, 2019

Five cousins taken by Dorian - Bahamian survivor recounts terrible loss as 2,500 reported missing just over a week after hurricane

Published:Thursday | September 12, 2019 | 12:17 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

As Jamaica breathes a sigh of relief that none of its nationals have been reported dead so far, one of the most devastating stories has emerged out of The Bahamas.

For 18-year-old Zachary Bain, the onslaught of Hurricane Dorian will be etched in his memory for all time.

The Category 5 storm, which has left a “generation of devastation”, according to Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, took the lives of five of Bain’s relatives.

“People who I knew died in this storm and dozens are still missing ... . They all were cousins, but we were just like sisters and brothers,” Bain said.

“They were full of love. If they needed a can of cream and we had it, we’d help them out ... we would always look out for each other.”

His cousins were feared missing in the immediate aftermath of Dorian, and he learnt of each death as officials discovered them.

“The thing I remember most about two of them is their love for the ocean. They loved going on the beach, loved going on the boat for fishing. It’s just so sad that the ocean is the cause for their death.”

He said flood waters would have carried the bodies of his cousins as they were found almost a mile away from where they stayed.

“When I got the news, it was heartbreaking, and for the set that’s still missing, I’m just trying to stay positive and hoping that they’re somewhere, just waiting to be rescued.”

Bain, who is from Pelican Point in East Grand Bahama, told The Gleaner that Dorian was by far the most powerful, the most destructive, and the most devastating storm he had ever experienced.

“A floating bar from a cay off the coast of Grand Bahama landed in my front yard, which I’m sure weighed more than two tonnes ... . The winds sounded like a freight train in my backyard. In my hometown, we suffered total destruction. Homes were destroyed. Even the church in which I worshipped was destroyed.”

While Dorian pounded The Bahamas, Bain and his family remained at home as no mandatory evacuation order had been given for their area.

“It was very scary because we were inside All the windows were boarded up. We didn’t know what was going on outside – how high the water is or what’s coming – so it was very scary.”

The blustery winds blew off the roof of his front porch, allowing water in, which damaged the walls and furniture.

For Bain, it was as if his imagination came to life during the storm and in the aftermath.

“This storm reminds me of stories my grandfather told me about the 1935 hurricane. Stories of people hanging on the trees for days for dear life. Stories of people being washed away by waves.”

Bain is staying at another cousin’s home in Freeport, Grand Bahama, as he waits to resume his training at a local shipping company.

His loss cannot be counted, but he remains hopeful.

“We just started to clean up yesterday because it’s really hard to get supplies back and forth from the city to the settlement because of the road damage, and there’s only one main road. In all things, I still have to give God thanks because I’m still here to tell the story.”

Yesterday, The Bahamas government said there were 2,500 people on its missing list after Hurricane Dorian. However, the number is expected to decrease as the list is checked off against the rosters of people evacuated from the devastated islands and those staying in shelters.

Up to last night, 50 people had been confirmed dead since the search and rescue operations began in the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama last week.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com