Hurricane Dorian – 2 Years Later

On Sept. 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco as a Cat 5 hurricane with 185 mph winds (a recorded gust of 202 mph), up to 40″ of rain & a 20′ storm surge.  While a similarly sized hurricane reportedly hit in 1935, the islands are much more built up & this storm literally stopped overhead for hours, crawling away at a snails pace, multiplying the damage.  A few tornados are also believed to have spun up, due to some localized areas completely leveled.

This was Hope Town’s Administrative building – the (missing) 2nd floor used to house the Post Office & the Clinic

Within hours, the U.S. Coast Guard began rescue helicopter flights. Within days, private boats & yachts loaded up with donated relief supplies, making runs back & forth from Florida.  Within weeks, a dozen international aid groups swarmed in with food, medical equipment, cooking equipment, tents, tarps, water purifiers, portable generators – you name it – it remarkably appeared.  The seas between Abaco & Florida became a 4-lane highway of boats, yachts, ships & barges.  It would be over a month before the nearby Marsh Harbour Airport could be repaired sufficiently to allow planes to land.

The tasks were nearly insurmountable, but progress was being made steadily … until COVID hit.  Within a week, international aid groups were rushed back home.  Locals, now mostly on their own, had no choice but to persevere & just keep plugging away.

All that’s left of Harbour’s Edge Restaurant in Hope Town. We’ve enjoyed many meals out on that deck – first on a charter sailing cat in 2007.
This was the Dock & Dine Restaurant on nearby Man-O-War Cay. They used to have the most beautiful Christmas tree on the righthand corner of that deck. Those broken pilings out to the left are all that’s left of the Man-O-War Marina, but re-building will begin in January.

The completely brand-new, beautiful Hope Town School

Now, 2 1/4 years later, remarkable progress has been made, especially on many of the smaller islands, including Guana Cay, Man-O-War Cay & Elbow Cay (Hope Town). A majority of the houses (particularly rental villas & 2nd homes) have been completely repaired, re-built or replaced.  Meanwhile the “mainland” of Marsh Harbour remains a much different story.  The scope of re-building & replacing thousands of homes & buildings is overwhelming, especially financially.  Over 90% of their economy is sourced from tourism, boaters & 2nd home owners – it is unknown whether all of Marsh Harbour & areas further out will ever fully recover, especially as many residents had to evacuate to Nassau (New Providence) after the hurricane – will they be able to return?

On a much lighter note – Lori had joked around we had already run out of carrots & neither grocery in Hope Town had any.  2 different cruisers arrived alongside 10 minutes apart the next day – they had each made separate trips in their boats over to the grocery store to stock up on Man-O-War, each bringing us back carrots.  Thanks guys!  But what – only 1 bag of Fritos? 🙂

It is great being back in Hope Town.  While not too busy here yet, there are 2 other PDQ powercats here – old friends on Adventure & new friends on Jabulani. We may remain here thru Christmas – it depends as always on the weather.  Eventually we will begin heading south to Spanish Wells, then the Exumas.

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