Life After Devastation


Clara Cianfarano

This image contains just fragments of the total amount of damage resulting from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas (Photo courtesy of Clara Cianfarano, photo credits to Clara Cianfarano).

Hurricane Dorian stirred up quite a storm in the Atlantic Ocean throughout the month of August, finally making landfall later that month. The hurricane grew to a category five and reached up to 185 mph winds when it hit its first victim, the Bahamas. It is now the most powerful hurricane to hit the islands, resulting in Dorian being named the worst natural disaster to ever face the Bahamas.

The devastation was so severe that senior Simran Chhatwal told the Bengal Beat, “…with an impact that big, [it will] probably take years [to recover].”

The hurricane pounded the Bahamas with all of its record-breaking might for days on end. It stayed overtop of the islands for multiple days as a category five, without moving and without changing categories. This resulted in unimaginable damage across all of the islands, leaving nothing but debris.

“Even if radio stations or the news had told them, they probably wouldn’t have expected the many losses/missing people. I’m sure most of the people have never been through a hurricane like that before so they wouldn’t expect anything to be as severe,” said Chhatwal.

Whether warned or not, citizens of the Bahamas braced for impact. Some evacuated while others decided to wait out the storm. However, choosing to stay was a huge risk that put their lives in immense danger. While the hurricane ripped through all that was in its path, individuals clinged to what was close as they hoped to not be taken with the winds and water. They prayed that their lives would be protected as they endured this life-threatening and traumatizing experience. However, not everyone made it through the storm alive. The death toll has risen to 58 within the past week, and over 1,000 are still missing.

“Rebuilding is a long term effect on everyone hit by Dorian because it will take the Bahamas years and maybe decades to completely rebuild and get back to where they were,” said senior Emily Mages.

The recovery process with be extensive as all aspects of the country will need to be repaired. Almost all buildings were ripped from the ground and beaches are in disarray. As a result, their economy will suffer greatly because it is based primarily off of tourism. The Bahamas is known for its beauty; however, they won’t be able to attract tourists while in complete shambles. This will cause the islands to have to find another way to support their economy. In turn, this may lead to their recovery possibly lasting even longer because they need money to rebuild, but no way to gain funds as they usually have from past practices, traditions, and habits. 

“A lot of people are without power, injured, mourning lost ones, and stranded without homes. It was a disaster for those who didn’t leave,” said senior Anna Jernigan.

Citizens are very concerned as they are homeless and jobless, but hopeful. However, they are still unsure and worried about how long the recovery process may take. All who are still there are living in shelters located all over the Bahamas. Also, they have been advised to not drink the tap water as it is contaminated with salt water, leading to the food and water source to be scarce. Those are all results of the estimated amount of 1.5 billion pounds of debris that is leftover from Dorian, which is going to cost millions and millions of dollars to repair. 

“[If the hurricane had hit the US more than it did,] we would hear more about it first off. Second, I think the National Guard would be busy and they would be away from their families! I also think it would impact our economy, but in an immediate way. If you think about all those people who were working jobs [where it hit,] they wouldn’t be [working those jobs] anymore,” said Mages.

Compared to the Bahamas, the United States was lucky, having limited interaction with Hurricane Dorian. The hurricane hit the state of Florida as a category three storm during the first week of September. Then, as it crawled up the coast, it dialed down to a category two by the time it reached the Carolinas. As the hurricane left the Carolinas and the U.S., it dropped all the way down to a category one. As a result of the impact in South Carolina, over 200,000 people were left without power and cities along the coast were completely flooded. However, Hurricane Dorian did not devastate the U.S. nearly as much as it destroyed the Bahamas. Both countries must endure and accept the process of recovery with the perseverance and optimism and hope for the future.

“They need to account for the people missing, recovery efforts, rebuilding, etc. The people who went through that will need a longer time to recover and they won’t be able to recover fully. It’s something that will stay with them, but over time they can get a little better,” said Chhatwal.