#Abaco, The Bahamas – September 1, 2020 — They floated almost angelically; the beautiful blossoms tossed onto the waters buffeting the shores of Great Abaco. Beneath the clear ocean which carried wreaths away from the still battered wooden dock and the people who lined the shore, is evidence that something horrible happened here.
The broken, barnacle-covered debris beneath, and flowers floating above created a dramatic image – eerily symbolic of the gravity of the moment.
What Abaco had endured, what the islanders have overcome and what was painfully wrenched from the people on September 1, 2019 when Hurricane Dorian hit.
Wreaths were today given to the very same waters which have taken so much… still it is where countless loved ones spent their final minutes fighting for their lives and where those left to mourn found it most fitting to say a more formal farewell.
A solemn ceremony was held at Friendship Tabernacle in Marsh Harbour on this September morning; with dignitaries including local government officials, Members of Parliament and Hon Darren Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs who represented the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, all attending.
Messages to the diverse attendees, according to prominent media businessman, pastor and community leader, Silbert Mills were: “Uplifting, encouraging, inspiring…”
Rev. Mills shared, Abaconians were mindful of COVID-19 social distancing protocols as they filed into the church; and he was pleased with the unity and comforting tone of the service… some were quiet, he said, others sobbed and yet more were thankful, somehow.
It has been one year since Hurricane Dorian brought harrowing conditions which led to a still untallied death toll.
“We still do not know how many of our Haitian brothers and sisters were lost in the hurricane,” explained Rev. Mills in our phone interview earlier today.
The Royal Bahamas Police and Royal Bahamas Defence Forces brought nobility to the thanksgiving service; participating most memorably in the finale wreath laying ceremony held at the water’s edge.
The island’s capital, Marsh Harbour was crushed under the weight and devoured in the fierceness of Hurricane Dorian – strongest Atlantic Hurricane in modern history, which sat for three days over Abaco and Grand Bahama in the northern Bahamas.
Today, power is restored, internet services are available, reconstruction is underway and temporary housing is embraced.
“Oh the dome homes are complete and fully occupied; in fact new dome homes are being built on properties as people work to repair what was structurally lost,” updated Rev. Mills.
There is dignity.
As wreaths were laid; the quiet singing of a well-worn gospel hymn of perseverance.
“…Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Residents are at 5 p.m. called to line the shores from Marsh Harbour to Murphy Town for a drone fly-by in memory of Abaco’s darkest day.