Hurricane Dorian

Tom Hudson / WLRN Public Media

Four months after Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the northern Bahamas, the government’s new head of reconstruction says they need to speed up recovery efforts. 

“One of the big priorities is this debris cleanup in Abaco,” says Katherine Smith, managing director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority during a bus tour Tuesday of parts of Great Abaco Island. “It’s really a big problem because of the scale of the hurricane and the damage it did in Abaco.”

Rodrigo Abd / AP

It's hard to wrap your arms around everything that happened 2019 in Latin America and the Caribbean. It's even harder to find any good news — from the violent political unrest that rocked capitals from La Paz to Port-au-Prince, to a record number of fires that ravaged the Amazon rainforest.

NOAA

Hurricane Dorian stands out as one of the biggest news stories of 2019.

The ominous Category 5 storm threatened South Florida for days. While the region escaped its destruction, the storm stalled over the northern Bahamas, scouring the islands with high winds and storm surge.

Dorian's Threat Dominated Hurricane Season

Dec 1, 2019
NOAA

For Florida, the 2019 hurricane season will be remembered for a gigantic, nerve-racking scare over the Labor Day weekend.

Gonzalo Gaudenzi / AP

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season officially wraps up Saturday, ending another above-average season that packed lethal power.

Joe Cavaretta / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Palm Beach County staffers who didn’t show up for Hurricane Dorian duty could have put the public at risk. Now they’ll have to pay for it.

More than two dozen employees didn’t report to man the county’s shelters when evacuation orders were issued in anticipation of Dorian. They all have been suspended for one week without pay and could be fired if they do it again, said Human Resources Director Wayne Condry.

More than a month after Hurricane Dorian ripped through Mash Harbour in the Bahamas, the debris —smashed pieces of wood that used to be houses, cars flipped on their sides and boats washed up in people’s yards — is strewn everywhere.

President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Florida in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

Just over a month after Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern Bahamas, parts of the island nation are still in ruins, thousands of people remain displaced and rebuilding has only just begun.

"We are moving as quickly as we can to get up and running," says Michael Jones. "But when that will be is anyone's guess."

Editor's note: This story includes images that some readers may find disturbing.

Sherrine Petit Homme LaFrance was crying on the side of a road when China Laguerre spotted her.

Hurricane Dorian destroyed LaFrance's newly constructed house in Great Abaco Island on the northern edge of the Bahamas the same night she moved in. That was on Sept. 1.

Nirmal Mulaikal/WLRN

Miami activists and a Hurricane Dorian survivor called on the Bahamian government Thursday to suspend immigration enforcement actions that threaten to deport undocumented migrants living in government-operated Bahamian shelters. 

 

Luis Hernandez

Gigi Stetler may have a lot of reasons not to help those in need. More than 30 years ago, she was stabbed multiple times after trying to help a homeless man. But that desire to reach out to strangers remained a part of her core.

After Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, Stetler sent RVs to the areas impacted to help families and workers keep a roof over their heads until homes could be rebuilt. Stetler, who owns RVs of Broward, was the first woman to break into the RV sales business as an owner.

About 4,000 Bahamians have evacuated to the U.S. since Hurricane Dorian struck the islands earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says. Many of them landed in Florida, less than 100 miles away.

Despite the closeness, getting here isn't easy for many Bahamians. And those who are here face an uncertain future.

Nadege Green / WLRN News

A little over a week after Hurricane Dorian made landfall and ravaged parts of the Bahamas, students at Florida Memorial University joined together for a prayer service.

Brea Rolle sat in the front pew with her head bowed.

Rolle is from Grand Bahama, one of the areas hardest hit by hurricane Dorian. Her mom sent her a message on Whatsapp saying she’s ok, followed by solemn news— their home is completely destroyed.

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Dorian decimated parts of the Bahamas. The death toll has climbed to at least 50, and according to some news reports, 1,300 people are reported missing — a drop from an initial figure of 2,500.

Thousands of Bahamians face a difficult decision in the days, weeks and months ahead: whether they should stay to rebuild, come to the United States for awhile, or aim to start a new life in America.

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