One of our PAQ families lost everything in Hurricane Dorian. Their home and family business has been destroyed and they have been relocated. We are raising money to support them in their time of need.
"To say our lives changed on Sept 1st, 2019 is a gross understatement, and to give you all the details is still hard for us. As I sit and type, I cry, hurt and feel as if I am back there again. But we truly feel blessed and our recovery has taking us to a new place in our lives. We thank God every day for life, family, the kindness of others, and that we live to see another day.
That Sunday, during the first part of Hurricane Dorian, our house (properly shuttered and protected) came apart around us when a tornado tore across our neighborhood, our community, our town. Our house had been through multiple cat 3 & 4 storms. We had NO FEAR leading into this storm. We always prepare well, and believed we were ready - until 11;15am, when a window in our dining room blew in while I was preparing lunch. After that, it was a series of slow catastrophic events unfolding; other windows blowing in, the front part of the house imploding, the upstairs being ripped from the rest of the house. It was all very surreal. Bill and I, tied together, backpacks on our backs, crouching in the back hallway downstairs calling for help on the VHF, waiting, praying for the eye to pass over us, so we could evacuate. Soon, the radio cracked with all our friends voices, but everyone was screaming for help, begging for someone to come and rescue them. Stories of a 20 foot surge from the harbour on the other side of the hill, our friends swept out of their homes, others riding out the storm clinging to roofs, or even coconut trees, for hours. Stuff of movies, really. We cried, and prayed harder. Thankfully, we located all our animals (2 dogs 2 cats) while the house crumbled around us. At 1 pm, the sky opened up to sunshine, and wind dropped to a gentle breeze. Getting out the back door with our pets, we ran to a neighbor’s house that was still standing. There, we weathered the back side of the storm in an unfamiliar house, grateful, scared, numb, physically drained. The eye closed in a blink and we were back up to 200 + mph by 2:30pm. We watched out his windows as his Jeep renegade was rolled over in his front yard, and his 26 ft center console boat levitated and literally flew over the top of the hill. We mopped water flooding in around the pulsing front door for hours, taping/blocking up compromised widows, and sat up all night in fear, praying the roof would hold. Thankfully, it did.
Sept 2 bought winds still in excess of 120 mph. As we watched through the window, refugees from the rest of town came over the hill to seek shelter in any building that was still standing. Women carrying children on their front and back, men carrying other injured people, forcefully entering any structure for shelter. The only communication was by VHF radio, no water or power. Bill was able to walk out and survey the damage in the area just outside out subdivision. He came back with tears in his eyes, head low. It was all gone. That afternoon, winds dropped under 100 mph he made it his duty to go over to our house, the mangled mess, and retrieve Miller’s medals strewed all around. He wanted to be sure Miller would still have something from his childhood because all other memorabilia was gone. Sometime, that afternoon we were able to borrow a satellite phone to call our loved ones. Miller was frantic, and that first call started a cascade of exhaustive efforts by him to try to get us evacuated. We ate food that was defrosting, cooked on a gas stove, by candle light that Monday night.
On Tuesday, Bill spent more time at our house, and came back with my pearls and the watch he gave me for my 30th birthday. When he gave this to me that night at dinner, we both cried for what felt like forever. For our losses, and for everyone else. While he was rummaging in the rubble, I went about taking some of our stored food over to the ladies and kids who had broken into the places next door. I found out I knew these people. Not hoodlums, but just desperate people looking for safety. One lady I saw, I know well, and she told me about her experience, that she had moved 4 times during the storm with her kids. Each time, running for her life. Eventually, at the end, she just joined the sea of people walking the streets looking for a place until they arrived to the condos next to our subdivision. Others told stories of losing love ones to the surge that simply swept them away. Their stories are the ones that really need to be told, not ours.
Each day we worked to try to get off the island. People were becoming desperate, fear was escalating, anger that our government was not present was quickly growing. Our island, our country had never experienced anything of this magnitude, and we knew we needed to evacuate. Miller tells his story that for 5 days he did not sleep, working all avenues of social media, connections and relationships to get us to the US safely. Mill, his grandparents, aunt, uncle, and all our extended family and friends worked tirelessly together. On Thursday, Sept 5th, 7;30 we were able to leave Abaco after spending over 8 hours on the tarmac at a demolished airport, waiting on the promise of a plane. Exhausted, but thankful, Bill and I both crumbled when the plane took off and we got to see the full extent of the damage to the island. We arrived in Florida soon after with our pets in tow, and have been putting one foot in front of the other since then, with lots and lots of support.
We know how hard this week was for everyone on the outside, who watched this whole tragedy unfold on the news. Since then, so many people held us in their prayers, lifted us up, helped in so many ways. We continue to be inspired by the good in people, even people who don’t know us, every day, who are helping us and our community recover from this tragedy. Experiencing this has been both horribly sad, and amazingly enlightening, heartwarming, and yes, it has been life changing. We look forward to returning to our island and rebuilding our home. It will never be the same, but it will be a new and special journey for all of us. Thanks for listening to our story."
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