It’s ‘sheer terror and confusion’ after Hurricane Dorian, says archbishop
Archbishop Patrick C. Pinder of Nassau, Bahamas, has celebrated a Mass for evacuee families and Catholic school staff members a week after Hurricane Dorian hit the islands.
The storm, which struck the northern Bahamas between 1-3 September, caused the deaths of at least 45 people.
In a video statement posted on the Nassau Archdiocesan website, the archbishop said he believes the official death toll “is bound to increase.”
“It is sheer terror and confusion for those who had their homes compromised in the middle of the storm and had to relocate, and all the challenges that poses, and then be taken to places where there were large crowds of people,” he said.
During the Mass, the archbishop reflected on the hurricane. “I spoke about the hurricane aftermath, then invited the people to come up for a blessing and we spent some time in quiet prayer commending to God the many who perished in the storm,” he said.
Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence to Archbishop Pinder, urging the international community to respond with “prompt and effective assistance.”
The archbishop described Hurricane Dorian as a “horrific experience” in which many lost their homes, and some lost all their possessions.
The Bahamas government estimates that Dorian affected 70,000 people, and 60% of those affected may have lost homes. Many people are reportedly still unaccounted for.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has described it as “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history.”
Archbishop Pinder told the Florida Catholic that two schools and one parish on Abaco Island were destroyed. He described St. Mary and Andrew Catholic Church as “a pile of rubble” following the hurricane.
The archbishop said the plan is to accommodate all displaced Catholic school students at Catholic schools in New Providence Island. There have also been discussions about accommodating some of the displaced students from public schools.
He said that, in the aftermath of the storm, it is important to “rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom, the peace of mind and the strength to make it through this most difficult time in the history of our nation.”
Plans are also underway to offer post-traumatic stress counselling for Dorian survivors.
“We are still working through this. We have only begun to understand the full depths of this catastrophe. This is a disaster on a scale that we have never seen before,” he said.
Picture: People carry their belongings through rubble on 2 September 2019, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. (CNS photo/Dante Carrer, Reuters)