As relief efforts begin for the islands of the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, residents are still processing the extent of the destruction.
Grand Bahama and Abaco islands were some of the most devastated areas. In the two days Dorian swept through as a Category 5 storm, it flooded neighborhoods, demolished buildings and left thousands of Bahamians homeless. Scores of people are still missing.
On Great Abaco Island, residents are trying to escape, as there is no running water or electricity, and food supplies are thinning.
“The human toll is horrifying, and the death toll continues to rise,” says Jason Neil Roberts, a pastor on Great Abaco Island. “When the final toll is given, this is going to go down as one of … the most horrific events probably within our country's history and probably on this side of the hemisphere.”
Dorian has since been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. It made its first landfall in the U.S. on Friday in North Carolina after largely sparing Florida and will trace the U.S. southeastern coast.
Roberts, who lives in Sandy Point, says his family is safe, but they are now dealing with the storm’s aftereffects on the community. The airport on the island is still closed due to flooding, and a town that once held around 500 people is now hosting close to 2,000, many of whom lost their home. The influx, he says, has caused security concerns that the town’s small police force was not ready for.
Roberts says he hosted nearly 50 people at his church Thursday night and was apologetic he could not provide them with more supplies.
“We had to provide sheets and try to provide food for them, and I was just being so sympathetic and apologetic that I could not do more,” he says. “But they were so grateful and simply said, 'We're just so happy to have a roof above our head.'”
"I try to project the message through this that storms come, and sometimes life becomes shredded. But God is there with us."Pastor Jason Neil Roberts
Roberts’ family was spared the brunt of Dorian’s wrath, he says. But the terror of the storm was unavoidable, and he had to take shelter inside his home when a tornado encroached on his neighborhood.
“We were in the hallway, and just like bombs were going off — like five bombs went off. And 10 seconds later, I went to the outside of my house, and it was like total savagery. Neighbors to the left, to the right and to the front of me, their roofs were shredded,” he says.
Despite Dorian’s toll on the islands, though, Roberts says he is looking at the situation optimistically, with his faith still strong.
“I always look at even the worst moments in life as an opportunity to have a teachable moment in it. For me, it's very humbling," he says. "I try to project the message through this that storms come, and sometimes life becomes shredded. But God is there with us, and if your faith is intact, you'll make it stronger and better than you ever were.”
This segment aired on September 6, 2019.
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