Hurricane Dorian

My Sisters & Brothers, 

Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama with category five fury from Saturday 31st August to Wednesday 4th September. We in New Providence Island had rain, wind and flooding in low areas, but nothing to speak about compared to the Northern Bahamas. Like Bimini and the Berry Islands, other islands had rain and high wind. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, The Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Hon. Dr. Howard Gregory, and every other diocesan bishop of the Province of the West Indies, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry from the Episcopal Church, Bishop Peter Eaton of our Companion Diocese of Southeast Florida and many other friends from across the Anglican Communion have been in touch with me to express their concern, to offer encouragement to me and you all, and to pledge any assistance that they can give. 

It was sheer agony to wait for the system to leave the Bahamas. It is profoundly worrying since we had not heard from many people on both islands. We have begun hearing from more and more persons, but, at this juncture, there are still persons unaccounted for. 

Dorian was a monster storm, unprecedented and extensive, which visited a historic tragedy upon these islands: the devastation has been catastrophic, such as has never been seen or imagined in these parts. 

Archdeacon Keith Cartwright, Fr. DeAngelo Bowe and I were able to fly over Marsh Harbour and surrounding areas on Tuesday. While images and video on social media and television have been heartbreaking, the actual scenes are far more horrific: buildings and infrastructure have been decimated, extensive flooding and hundreds of acres of crops destroyed. Both islands will have to do much rebuilding. 

We must be sympathetic towards others, feel their pain, and share in their suffering.  Many of us have relatives, friends, colleagues and associates in the devastated areas, which brings the pain even closer to home. Let us continue to bear their burdens in our hearts and keep them in prayer. 

The most heartbreaking aspect of this is the humanitarian crisis: so many persons (65,000 plus) are in upheaval or displaced, suffering and in anguish. 

At present, there are 20 persons confirmed dead in Abaco alone. There will be more deaths recorded. 

As the bishop, I am asking you to do several things:

  1. Please continue to pray daily for persons in the affected islands and their families. Keep them in mind and your heart.
  2. Commit to reaching out to those in the affected areas: call, WhatsApp, email, tweet, and message them. Stay in touch and let them know that you care. Send supplies, if you can. Commit to this for at least one year or more. Recovery will take many years.
  3. I officially launched the Diocesan Hurricane Dorian Appeal today. Commit to being as generous as you can, as often as possible, in the second collections and using the special hurricane appeal envelopes.
  4. Plan to take a relative, friend, or another person from the affected islands into your home if they need it. The destruction on the ground and the devastation of the terrain and the economy make it impossible for those areas to sustain the current population. Some persons will have to relocate, even if only temporarily. This is not optional. We have to take them into our homes and hearts and help them over this crisis.
  5. Be positive. With all of the images in the news media and particularly the bombarding in social media, it can be overwhelming. All around us, some people are complaining and negative. 

Please make no mistake: the situation is dire, the stories are heartbreaking, the suffering is great, and we are faced with something we have NEVER met before. However, we have to take every opportunity to look on the bright side, count our blessings, celebrate what did not go wrong, and encourage others to do so. 

Note: as part of our response to Hurricane Dorian, The Diocese has established a Go Fund Me Account for the ease of international donors in particular. The link is: Please share widely with your relatives and friends abroad. 

This road we are on is long, so we have to be prayerful, positive, and praising. This will carry us over the short and long haul. Let us trust God even as we press on. 

Yours in Christ, 

The Rt. Rev’d. Laish Z. Boyd