We cringed and shuddered at the extremely heart-wrenching sights and sounds coming from the Bahamas on Sunday, and they were an unwelcome reminder of the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irma some two years ago. In one bit of footage (all in real time, mind you), a mother is heard, amidst the terrifying sound of Mother Nature in travail, begging the world to pray for her and her four-month-old baby. We did. Fervently. After all, that mother’s terror was a dreadful reminder of the awful way in which the wind and the storm surge snatched two-year-old Carl Francis Jr. from the arms of his godmother as Hurricane Irma unleashed her fury on Barbuda. We will never forget how that grief-stricken lady told the world, in words that pierced our hearts, “Is me the baby get way from.” So sad! Needless to say, we will never forget little Carl aka ‘Bigs Jr.’
And speaking of Carl Jr., we cannot forget Carl Sr. his disconsolate father. According to Karen Chavez, writing in the CITIZEN TIMES a few months after the tragedy, “Carl Sr. is a ghost of his former self,” and in words that could barely mask his deep pain, he declared, “I have suffered the greatest loss . . . On the sixth of September (2017) I lost my heartstring, my Carl. I don’t sleep up until this day. It’s not easy to take. I’ve seen things I’ve never seen before.” We feel his pain.
In another audio from the Bahamas, a man is heard, his voice breaking, appealing to the Bahamians to be prepared because “My cousin in Abaco, his roof blow off and his house gone, and he is there sitting in the middle of nowhere . . . He don’t think he going to make it . . . man . . boy, allyou prepare; seriously, seriously prepare!” Turns out, this gentleman’s words of warning were not an exaggeration. Based on reports coming out of the Bahamas, Abaco is a disaster zone of Biblical proportions. As was Barbuda. Much of the island is under water, in some areas as high as five feet. Think a modern day Atlantis, especially when taking into account the massive storm surge of up to 23 feet. And Dorian is stalled over major portions of the island nation.
And so it goes – Hurricane Irma redux – the apocalypse by way of 185 mph winds, much like Hurricane Irma. And water, water everywhere! Last we heard, Ingrid Macintosh was tearfully recounting the first known fatality on the island of Abaco, that of her eight-year old grandson. He was swept away in the waves at the height of the tempest. Reports also indicate that there have been at least five other deaths, and over thirteen thousand homes destroyed. It is not a pretty picture. Indeed, footage on social media show the Prime Minister of the stricken country, Hubert Minnis, shedding tears at the devastation.
Of course, our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas, and we will certainly do all that we can to assist them. We’re talking people helping people. If you recall the Venezuelans assisted us in the evacuation of Barbuda when Hurricane Maria threatened to add insult to injury. And when the Barbudans got to Antigua, shell-shocked sojourners in a strange land, so to speak, it was our very own Managing Director, Serpent, and The Movement, who, on Observer radio, put out a plea for food, blankets, clothing and other supplies for our Barbudan kinfolk. They have never forgotten our kindness; not that we were doing it for any reward. It was simply the right thing to do.
In three days, we will be marking exactly two years since Hurricane Irma did her darndest and our Prime Minister wept. The sad truth is that, notwithstanding the millions of dollars raised and the huffing and puffing from many in high places, the Barbudans are still weeping over their dearly-beloved Barbuda. The unfolding tragedy in the Bahamas is an unsettling reminder of that fact!
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