Before the storm. When things get too real:
The past couple days went from ooooh okay to oooh fuckk. The satellite images scaring the pants off of me. Hurricane Mathew with its painstakingly slow movement, taking its precious time across the Greater Antilles, leaving nothing but destruction in its path. It was such a sloooow process.
Getting out of Nassau proved to be quicker and happened more efficiently than we expected. Airport Staff, Security and even the American immigration officers were calm, light hearted and organised. Their demeanour, togetherness and peacefulness was in stark contrast to the chaos that I felt. At one point I questioned if we were indeed doing the right thing. Were we being drastic? Were we being silly by abandoning our home and heading away from the danger?
The constant broadcast on the weather channel erased my doubts.
Haiti’s highest point exceeds 2000 meters, the highest point in the Bahamas is roughly 63 meters. Haiti’s death toll -100 and counting.
Initially my husband and I had hoped that the Hurricane would veer right, clip the Outer Islands and leave New Providence and Nassau to cope with a Tropical Storm. The winds don’t scare me, the waves don’t scare me, the rains don’t scare me, but the storm surge – the 10-15 feet of water – sends chills which echo straight through my spine. When we got the latest up date, a direct hit on Nassau by Category 4 Hurricane; 120 mph winds, storm surges, flash floods, flooding.
Panic mode initiated our flight search.
I was afraid.
There were those who had to stay as a result of various reasons – lack of funds, work, cancelled flights or simply because the thought of abandoning their homes did not sit right with them.
I was afraid for my home too – so I understood why. Our home. Damn it – our home. All of our lives thrown into uncontrollable chaos.
It’s dawned on me – more people could die and all I selfishly think is “What are we going to go home to?”
Our privilege doesn’t escape me. All the flights are fully booked. Those who simply can not afford to evacuate, those whose employers will not or can not release them.
We are of the lucky few.
My thoughts rest in a light constant prayer – no more deaths please, let the damage be minimal – fixable.
During the storm.
We ended up in New Orleans, what seemed to us as the most important event impacting our lives, barely made headlines there. We made light of it, pretending that the hurricane didn’t bother us. Laughed, tried to enjoy our mini (forced) vacation. Whenever a television was on at any restaurant we dined at, we anxiously watched for headlines about the Bahamas. Freeport and Nassau were mentioned, but nothing about the west. Was that good or bad? Friends had gone silent, conserving energy as electricity would have surely been switched off.
My external patience was deceptive, I was anxious and afraid.
After it All:
Most of New Providence had been spared. The storm surge hit the south of the island, many homes were lost. While my home lost a few tiles. I felt ashamed of my relief. I didn’t rejoice in anyone’s pain but I was grateful to be spared loss of home, major damage to furniture or any flood damage.
It’s been weeks since Hurricane Mathew left his trail of evil, but the healing process continues. Some repairs have been swift, for some the damage is unfixable. The seas are a little rougher, the land more haggard, the people – bent but not broken. Bahamian life continues – life in the sun.