Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
A long weekend at Calypso was recently spent making a detailed assessment of the labor and materials needed for restoring the house to top notch condition. A schedule is evolving for shipping building materials, tools, household items, and workers as these are all quite limited on the island. Most of the work should be completed by this summer. Every home owner with whom we spoke is committed to restoring their houses and the island to its former glory, if not better.
Previous visitors who know their way around the island and are comfortable making their own fun will find plenty to do and enjoy once power is restored, currently predicted to be in June. First time visitors would be advised to wait until next year, when communications are better, clean up is further along, and more businesses open.
After 10 days on Elbow Cay, it is obvious that Calypso was extremely fortunate. There is a lot to be done – roof repair, window repair, siding replacement, painting, new HVAC, and new furnishings, but no rebuilding. Calypso is worn, but now habitable, and will be available for rent as soon as power to the island is restored, hopefully this spring. The island needs visitors and their love, energy, and injection of money into the local economy. The water and beaches are perfectly fine, and rental boats and carts will be available.
Clean-up of the island progresses at an impressive rate, and the locals and property owners remain in good spirits and optimistic. Enough homes and businesses survive to insure the island and area remains an appealing place to visit. The brilliant stars, fresh salt air, clear blue waters, and lull of the surf are all truly timeless.
Wow. A lot has happened in the last 6 weeks. Ferry service has been re-established. The Abaco Inn bar and restaurant has opened to join On Da Beach and Firefly. Fuel and other goods are starting to flow. Groceries are available at LVA and Harbour View. Regular community planning meetings are being held, and cleanup continues with the help of many workers and volunteers across the island. Debris is regularly being barged off island to Marsh Harbour.
Second home owners have been invited to visit their homes, with the understanding that there is still no power other than individual generators, and resources are very limited. We are scheduled to spend Thanksgiving week on Elbow Cay, which will be our first visit since Dorian. Our primary objectives are:
- meet with our contractor
- meet with the insurance adjuster
- determine the scope of repair work needed
- compile a list of needed building materials
- compile a list of replacement furnishings
- clean the house as much as possible
- conduct simple repairs
- prepare the house for housing recovery workers
- devote time to projects benefiting the community
Somewhere in there we hope to hoist a glass with our island friends, give thanks for everyone surviving, and toast the incredible efforts being made to put the island on a firm path to recovery.
Clean up has commenced, but progress is very slow due to the extent of the damage to the island, the volume of debris, and lack of grid power.
Calypso is one of the best built homes on the island, and durability was paramount during its construction. The framing is treated wood, the interior siding is cypress sealed on all sides, and the exterior is primarily Hardie shingle/ply. Tile floors are mostly indestructible. Damage was primarily cosmetic, and we expect to return Calypso to excellent condition rapidly once power is restored and workers are available. Our neighbor owns a landscaping business, and we are hopeful that with his help, we can quickly replace the lost palm trees and perhaps improve the overall landscaping. While none of the work on Calypso helps the community specifically, every small part of a return to normalcy contributes to the whole.
We have received more pictures from our neighbor, but not much else in terms of an update. Second homeowners have been discouraged from visiting as there is minimal transportation, no utility power, and no lodging. We will visit to assess Calypso as soon as all the challenges and logistics permit.
Based on information we have thus far, damage to the house is not major. Under normal circumstances, it could be easily repaired. Once power is restored to the house, we can begin serious cleanup and repair. We don’t know if our generator can be made operational, or when, and supplying fuel is problematic. Everyone on the island is contending with the same power problem.
This blog will concentrate primarily on Elbow Cay, acknowledging with great respect the severity of damage to other parts of the Bahamas.
The Marsh Harbour airport is open and huge efforts are underway on all affected islands to evacuate people and bring in relief/recovery manpower and supplies.
Elbow Cay has received an amazing amount of support. Now that evacuation of those in greatest need has been completed, the focus has been on damage assessment and organizing resources. Clearing the roads, and restoration of power and communications are a priority, but the infrastructure has been severely damaged. More information is available at the previously suggested links.
Thankfully, Calypso appears to be structurally sound and repairable. The ocean side homes, for a change, seem to have sustained much less damage than homes on the sound side of the island.
The economy on Elbow Cay depends upon renters and second home owners. Residents and visitors are highly motivated to return the island to its former glory, and this will occur, probably more rapidly than anyone would expect. The things that make Elbow Cay special have not been destroyed!
The thoughts and prayers offered by so many friends are greatly appreciated. It is simply not possible to individually respond to such an outpouring of concern, or provide everyone with regular updates.
The damage inflicted upon Elbow Cay, Man-O-War, Marsh Harbour, and other Bahamas islands can only be described as apocalyptic. That more people did not perish is a miracle. The main airports are closed. All ferries sunk. There is no power, and generators are running out of gas. Food supplies are dwindling. Elbow Cay and Marsh Harbour look as if they had been bombed. The islanders are in survival mode. Rescue and relief efforts are being organized, but the magnitude of the task is barely comprehensible, and it will take a while.
Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue is the coordinating relief entity on Elbow Cay, and is recommended as the recipient of any donations. Your donation will go directly to the people that need it the most on Elbow Cay, as determined by the people best qualified to make those decisions.
Here are links for current information, including pictures and videos:
Facebook – Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Facebook – Hope Town Bulletin Group
We know that Calypso stands, verified by a few low resolution pictures of our neighbor’s house with Calypso in the background. Our caretaker, Jamie Williams, serves with Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue, and our house is, and should be, a very low priority. This blog will be updated when we learn more.
Coincidentally, Category 4 hurricane Floyd hit Elbow Cay 20 years ago this month, destroying the house which Calypso replaced and causing widespread damage. Though the island was not nearly so devastated, it bounced back to be the place that so many of us have enjoyed and come to love. Don’t give up on Elbow Cay, it will recover.
What you can do now is to support relief efforts with a monetary donation. What you can do in the future is to support the economy of Elbow Cay by returning as a visitor.