The Strength of the Bahamian Spirit

In the nearly ten weeks since Hurricane Dorian, we’ve talked a lot about the helpers. And rightfully so.

Hundreds of relief workers and volunteers have put their lives on hold to come to the Bahamas to feed storm victims, raise sunken vessels and muck out buildings.

A chef from World Central Kitchen, one of hundreds of relief workers currently on the ground in the Bahamas, watches as supplies are unloaded from the weekly freight boat in Marsh Harbour.

Thousands of kind donors have contributed funds, food, clothing, vehicles, construction materials and more. And the Bahamian people are incredibly grateful for this support. 

 But on Friday night, Tom’s news report – shot while we were in Abaco in late October – was about Bahamians. In this case, the residents of Green Turtle Cay who are working tirelessly to rebuild their homes and lives.

Green Turtle Cay Goes Back to the Drawing Board

Until the 1970s and 80s, few Green Turtle Cay residents had home telephones. Most had to walk to the hilltop telephone station to place calls.

Later, the VHF radio provided a vital communications link for local residents. What it lacked in privacy, I’m told it made up for in entertainment value.

Thankfully, over the past few decades, communications in Abaco have improved significantly. Not only have land lines become common, but the quality of cell service and Internet rivals that in the U.S. and Canada.  

But then came Dorian. And now we’ve gone back – quite literally — to the drawing board.

Green Turtle Cay Message Board — at the ferry dock in town

Bolo III is Back Home

A lot of blog readers have emailed to ask how the Green Turtle Cay Ferries fared during Dorian.

The Green Turtle Cay Ferry fleet, before Hurricane Dorian

Prior to the storm, GTC Ferries had four vessels in operation: Bolo, Bolo II, Bolo III and Bolo IV.

With Dorian churning toward the island, the ferry company hauled Bolo and Bolo IV from the water and secured them on the hard at the boat yard. They tied up Bolo III in Black Sound and moored Bolo II deep in nearby Munjack Creek.  

Marsh Harbour’s Maxwell’s Supermarket Reopens

They said they’d do it, and they did. Congratulations to the entire team at Maxwell’s Supermarket & Home Store in Marsh Harbour on meeting their goal to reopen the store yesterday.

The lines were long at Maxwell’s yesterday, but nobody was complaining. Photo courtesy of Kristen Pearce.

Not surprisingly, after eight weeks without a grocery store, Marsh Harbour residents were eager to get shopping. I understand that parking spaces and shopping carts were nearly impossible to find.  

Thinking of Eric Sawyer, Two Years Later

Today makes two years since we lost Eric Sawyer so unexpectedly. His passing was a shock then and it’s still difficult to accept.

I wanted to take a few minutes to remember him (if I close my eyes, I can still hear his laugh) and to send love to his parents, Brian and Caroline, his sister Michelle and her family, his brothers Ronel, Peter and Richard, and his thousands of friends in the Bahamas and around the world.

Team M/V Adventure Helps Repair GTC’s Basketball Court

On September 15, two weeks after Hurricane Dorian, the 55’ Nordhavn trawler M/V Adventure arrived at Green Turtle Cay to assist with the island’s recovery.

Vessel owners Captain Bradford and Lorraine Carlton, along with a group of friends and volunteers, quickly established a food kitchen, which they called the Adventure Cafe.

For the past six weeks, with the help of local residents, the Adventure Cafe has served two meals a day, feeding people as they work hard to put their town, their homes and their lives back together.

Green Turtle Cay, Two Months Later

When Tom and I arrived on Green Turtle Cay last week, we were prepared for what we would meet. We’d seen the images and heard stories of the destruction Hurricane Dorian had visited upon this little island.  

What I wasn’t expecting was how beautiful New Plymouth still is. Bruised and battered? Definitely. Still in need of help? Absolutely.

Thanks to Tom for this video of the settlement of New Plymouth, shot October 30, 2019

But, as the saying goes, true beauty comes from inside, from the heart. And the heart of Green Turtle Cay is bigger and stronger than ever.

Fundraiser Tonight at Key West’s DJ’s Clam Shack to Benefit Bahamian Hurricane Victims

If you’re in Key West this evening, please come by DJ’s Clam Shack (629 Duval Street) and support their benefit for Bahamian victims of Hurricane Dorian.

Festivities will include t-shirt sales, raffles, giveaways, and DJ’s inaugural Lobster Roll Eating Contest, featuring local celebrity contestants, at 6 p.m. on Duval Street.

Tom’s Report on Marsh Harbour, Two Months Post-Dorian

Late last night, Tom and I arrived back in L.A. after a week in Abaco. Witnessing the destruction wrought by Dorian was heartbreaking. Even having seen it first hand, I have trouble believing it’s real.

Some of you may know that Tom’s a foreign correspondent for Canada’s CTV National News. When he took a week off work so that we could get to Green Turtle Cay and check on Fish Hooks, he planned to shoot some video for me to use here on the blog.

Tom shoots video as the freight boat arrives into the port of Marsh Harbour

In the end, however, the journalist in him took over, and he put together the following news story, which aired nationally in Canada this past Tuesday.

What Hope Looks Like

Denise McIntosh of Green Turtle Cay’s McIntosh’s Restaurant & Bakery reports there was much excitement and energy on the cay yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Denise McIntosh

Thursday night, a barge bearing power poles pulled up to the freight dock. And first thing Friday morning, crews began the task of transporting and installing them throughout town.

It’s Finally Time: A Fish Hooks Update

Over the past six weeks, Tom and I have received so many kind calls, emails, texts, Facebook and Whatsapp messages and more, inquiring about our little house by the ferry and how it fared during Hurricane Dorian. Until now, however, I just didn’t feel ready to talk about it.  

Fish Hooks Cottage – April 2019

Early on Sunday, September 1, as Dorian barreled northwest along the coast of Abaco toward Green Turtle Cay, we began hearing how severely Hope Town and Marsh Harbour had been hit. At that point, Tom and I made peace with the fact that Fish Hooks would likely be destroyed.

Video of Green Turtle Cay Post-Dorian

This terrific video was posted yesterday on YouTube by a member of Team M/V Adventure. Team M/V Adventure helped set up the Adventure Cafe, which has been feeding the folks of Green Turtle Cay as they attempt to rebuild their town and their lives after Hurricane Dorian.

Video courtesy of YouTube

I just did a rough tally, and over the past 14 years, I’ve shot more than 115,000 photos on Green Turtle Cay. And yet, in watching this video, there were entire street scenes that I didn’t immediately recognize. The amount of damage and destruction our little island has sustained is absolutely heartbreaking.

On-the-Ground Photos of Guana Cay (Post-Dorian)

Once again, I’m incredibly grateful to Bruce Pinder of Da Salty Pig Adventures in Spanish Wells for permitting me to share these photos with you.

Like the other Abaco Cays, Guana Cay was devastated by Hurricane Dorian. To help our Guana friends recover and rebuild, please consider:

  • Contributing to the Guana Fire and Rescue GoFundMe page. Funds raised through this effort will be allocated by Guana Fire and Rescue to the people of Guana Cay.
  • Contributing to the Guana Cay GoFundMe page set up by Katie Hoog, girlfriend of Guana Cay’s Ricky Sands. Funds are being used to purchase survival supplies, evacuation helicopters and boats, temporary housing, medical supplies and building materials.

Photos of Hope Town Waterfront (Post-Dorian)

Thank you again to Bruce Pinder of Da Salty Pig Adventures in Spanish Wells for allowing me to share these photos he took of the homes along the edge of Hope Town Harbour on Elbow Cay.

As you can see, our Hope Town friends were also hard-hit by Hurricane Dorian. Here’s how you can help them:

  • Contribute to the GoFundMe page of Hope Town second-homeowner Matt Winslow, who’s working with the Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue folks to raise funds and bring in aid.

More On-The-Ground Green Turtle Cay Photos (Post-Dorian)

Many thanks to Trina Sasine (she and her husband Robert own Sandpiper, on Gillam Bay) for allowing me to share these photos, taken in the days following Hurricane Dorian.

Did you know that 70,000 Bahamians — that’s more than one in six! — have lost their homes and/or businesses? Here’s how you can help them rebuild their lives.

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