NASSAU, The Bahamas — “And then the water comes, and it keeps on coming. When I got scared, it was too late to leave.”
“Seasoned” Marshall Road resident V. George Wilson shared those words with Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon Perry Christie, Minister with responsibility for Hurricane Relief the Hon. Shane Gibson, Minister of the Environment and Housing the Hon. Kendred Dorsett, National Emergency Management Agency representatives and stakeholders present on October 17, 2016, with laughter and a smile on his face — a smile that appeared to be tempered with weariness.
Mr. Wilson was one of several Marshall Road residents who did not heed the warnings to evacuate before the arrival and onslaught of Hurricane Matthew, recently, upon their Southern New Providence neighbourhood.
He went on the say that the storm surge came quickly up to two-thirds the height of his tyres on his motor vehicles and, even though he thought his house was highly elevated, he estimated that he experienced 18 inches of saltwater into his home. He said he got roof damage and lost some of the articles in his home.
“Man, you should see all my front yard … it will take a little while to get it back,” Mr. Wilson said, when asked about the condition of his property.
Mr. Wilson estimated that the surge could have been up to 10 feet in his area of the neighbourhood.
Fellow long-time resident Mr. E. R. Hanna injured his hand after falling backwards while avoiding a piece of wood that had an errant nail sticking out from it. He also thought that his higher elevation would make his home more impervious to Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge. He was in for an unexpected experience.
“Water came up to the rainwater tank by the patio from that side,” he said pointing in a southerly direction. “And from that side (pointing in the opposite direction), it came about 30 feet inside my yard, where everything floated around there.”
However, he quickly pointed out, the only thing lost was the majority of the shingles from his roof.
“I have to redo my whole house,” he said emphatically, while talking about his roof. “The shingles got tattered, busted right up, and we have a few leaks.”
Mr. Wilson voiced a respect for the power of the hurricane, from the viewpoint of one who experienced its fierceness up close.
“You would have to see that force to appreciate the force of nature,” Mr. Wilson added.
He also took time out to give an historical frame to view his experience that day.
“You never see that amount of force in life,” Mr. Wilson added. “You used to hear your grandparents talk about the ’29 Hurricane; but you thought they were exaggerating, you know.”
“What can you say but thanks and praise to the Lord,” Mr. Hanna said. “Nobody died.”