It was the first week of March. I’d been travelling around Abaco, visiting family members and friends, and seeing for myself both the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Dorian and the hard work and monumental efforts being put into rebuilding.
Having finally found a contractor and crew to repair Fish Hooks, I decided to return to L.A. for a few weeks. I didn’t even unpack my suitcase when I got back — just left it packed and ready for my GTC return.
And then — like many of you, I’m sure — I found myself in some sort of bizarre, dystopian reality.
Within ten days of my return, all of Los Angeles County was in lockdown. Overnight, we learned a new vocabulary, phrases like “flattening the curve” and “physical distancing.”
Around the same time, the first case of Covid-19 in the Bahamas was detected. Before long, the country closed its borders. Not just to visitors, but to Bahamians as well. I was left stuck in L.A., and our contractor in Florida.
Not that I object to the measures being taken by the Bahamian government. It’s not easy for Bahamians to turn away tourists, especially after the country’s economy took a brutal blow last September from Hurricane Dorian.
But in light of the fact that this small nation simply doesn’t have the medical capacity to address and treat a widespread outbreak, keeping the virus contained and controlled is the only option.
Nowhere is this more true than in Abaco and Grand Bahama, both still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Dorian. You know that topsy-turvy, what-on-earth-happened sensation we’re all experiencing? Our family and friends in Abaco have been living with that for more than eight months.
The majority don’t yet have running water – so much for frequent handwashing! — or electricity. More than a few are still living in tents.
With so many Abaconians exhausted and run down, and knowing how deadly Covid-19 can be for those with weakened immune systems, an outbreak in Abaco could be catastrophic.
Surely, I won’t be alone when I say that the past few months have been difficult. Adjusting to the “new normal” has taken time. It took me more than two months to accept that I likely won’t get back to Abaco anytime in the near future. (I finally unpacked my GTC suitcase on Thursday.)
As grateful as I am that Tom and I are healthy and able to be together for all of this, it’s hard knowing that while we have everything we need to ride out this crisis (including lots of toilet paper!), so many of our family and friends don’t.
Covid-19 could not have come along at a worse time for Abaconians. Many who left the island after Dorian are now unable to return to repair their homes. Local business owners who were finally in a position to reopen have suffered yet another setback. And people who haven’t been able to find work in the eight months since Dorian are struggling to afford even food and medications.
Making the situation worse, most of the foreign non-governmental organizations who have so generously assisted Abaco since last September have reduced their on-the-ground presence, or pulled out completely until the Covid-19 crisis is over. It’s understandable, of course. But so unfortunate for those just beginning to see the first rays of light at the end of the post-Dorian tunnel.
Long story short, while so much of the world’s attention is now focused on the coronavirus, folks in Abaco need help more than ever.
Fortunately, a number of organizations — including those listed below — continue to assist, and I’ll be updating my “How You Can Help Dorian Victims” list in the days ahead. If you know of organizations still on the ground or lending support to Abaconians during the Covid-19 crisis, please drop me a note and I’ll ensure they’re on the list.
In the meantime, please consider donating to:
And of course, don’t forget the various community fundraising vehicles established in the days and weeks after Dorian, including:
With the 2020 hurricane season less than a month away, these organizations and communities are scrambling to rebuild hurricane shelters and repair homes and other vital structures.
I promise to write more in the coming days about Fish Hooks, and about a couple of other projects that have been keeping me busy during lock down.
In the meantime, to everyone who has lost a loved one to Covid-19, Tom and I send our love and deepest condolences.
To everyone reading this, please be safe, keep our friends and family in Abaco in your thoughts, and make a contribution to one of the above-mentioned organizations if you’re able.