Currents News Staff
While tropical storm Humberto mostly missed the devastated islands of the Bahamas, it resurfaced feelings of terror for Hurricane Dorian survivors.
Just two weeks after the category 5 storm decimated much of Grand Bahamas and Abaco islands, the unexpected weather is adding new stress for evacuees in Nassau, who are navigating an uncertain future with an unknown timeline.
Tracking another storm heading to Abaco was too much for Sitha Silien to handle. “No, I don’t wanna hear nothing, even rain,” she said. Her home, along with almost everything else in the mostly-Haitian shantytown called “The Mudd,” is gone.
The everyday sounds of Nassau now trigger terrifying memories for Sitha.
“I jumped up, I thought it was a storm outside. When I came to the door, it was nothing. The officer was like, ‘what happened?’ I asked his if it was another hurricane, and he said no and he said ‘That’s the airplane!’” Sitha said of her experience as she waits to transfer to her third shelter in ten days.
In that time frame, her only focus is finding and burying the bodies of her mother and brother, who both died in her arms during the storm.
“I lift my brother..lift him, literally lift him with my hands, The other friends bring him by the road,” Sitha said. “They said… they found some bodies, they didn’t find some bodies..I know my mommy and my brother are there,”
The Bahamas official death toll has sat at 50 for nearly a week. According to Sitha, that number does not include her mother, brother or cousin, though she claims to have given the government identifying information about all three.
While she is grateful the way the shelters have treated her, Sitha does not want to stay in Nassau, a city that she- and many other evacuees of Haitian descent have described as “unwelcoming.”
Odiles and Agnes Pierre escaped from Abaco with their four children, and are now staying with a friend of his boss while trying to get out of Nassau.
“We don’t want to live in Nassau,” Agnes explained, “because we have been threatened in the house. a few people said that, in videos and other, ‘We should kill all Haitians,’ because we were the ones who caused the hurricane that destroyed Abaco.”
In the days after Dorian hit, posts slandering Haitians went viral in local WhatsApp groups, cheering the destruction of their communities, death threats and claims that the hurricane was punishment for a belief in voodoo.
“I don’t want to get killed. I’ve been through so much, we survived from it now… I don’t want to come here and just die, because they blame us for the hurricane that happened,” said Agnes.
When speaking with the media, many local Bahamians repeatedly referred to the Haitians as “illegal,” explaining there are deep-seeded tensions between them.
But government officials have said multiple times that all Dorian victims will be treated equally when it comes to disaster relief.
However, the Pierre family doesn’t trust that promise.
“I would like for us to get to the states for recovery, until the island comes back, so at least my kids can go to school and feel comfortable,” said Odiles.
But now with no job and important documents lost in the storm, the chances of getting a U.S. visa quickly are slim, leaving storm survivors to fear the worst may not be behind them.