Whenever I would hear about the Bahamas, I was instantly brought to think of traveling. Many of my friends back in middle school wanted to have their honeymoon there when they got married. Everything I heard was positive and happy news, but over the last few weeks, the news has been nothing but devastating for the people in the Bahamas.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall on September 1, 2019 hitting both the Grand Bahama Island and the Grand Abaco Island. It was a slow-moving Category 5 storm with winds that topped 200 mph and a storm surge that reached nearly 24 feet. As of this last Monday, September 9, there were 50 people dead, thousands of people missing, and over 70,000 homeless, according to the New York Times. Officials say that the death toll is expected to spike once rescuers can comb through all the rubble on the islands. The Bahama islands that got hit are still without power and running water. Two towns on the Great Abaco Island, Mudd & Pigeon Peas, are home to many Haitian immigrants, and they lived in makeshift homes. After the hurricane hit, aerial images taken September 3 from The New York Times showed that their homes were reduced to piles of plywood and rubble. In smaller offshore towns such as Man-O-War Cay, the roofs were ripped off some houses, while others were completely flattened. These offshore towns didn’t receive nearly as much flooding or water damage as the towns right on the shore did, but the destruction is still devastating. The Leonard M. Thompson International Airport was completely under flood waters, which inhibited many rescue missions.
Since they couldn’t use the airway to fly in and out of or simply land a helicopter, many of the survivors who fled the islands had to do so by water. Sunday afternoon, September 8th, dozens of Bahamas residents were kicked off a ferry headed to Florida because they didn’t have Visas. According to NBC News, there was a failure of communication between the U.S Authorities and the company operating the ferry. The first statement that was released from the Customs and Border Protection said that they would have allowed any passengers without visas to enter the country if they had valid passports, documentation of a clean criminal record, and prior approval for entry through the US Embassy in the Bahamas. Later, though, a second statement was released by a spokeswoman for the agency that said only travelers coming in by air, not sea, were eligible to enter without visas. Although the head of the border agency in Miami said they were using maximum flexibility, passengers of the ferry were interviewed, and they expressed how there was little flexibility being shown.
My hope is that we all keep them in our minds while they go through this tragedy. Look up where you can donate either monetarily or through food and clean water in the community around you.