Today is a day of remembrance.
We remember all of those who lost their lives because of the destruction and ravages of Hurricane Dorian.
We continue to pray for their souls even as we honor their memory.
We remember and continue to pray for those who lost loved ones and who are still grieving.
Grief is one of the hardest human experiences.
We miss our loved ones with a depth of sorrow so overwhelming that it is hard to bear.
We remember the survivors of Hurricane Dorian, who are still rebuilding their lives and their communities on Abaco, throughout the Abaco Cays, and on Grand Bahama.
We remember and we will never forget the pain, the suffering and the devastation from this monster storm, from which it will take time to recover on many levels.
Bahamians and residents suffered life-changing injuries and mental trauma from what they endured.
On behalf of myself and my wife, Patricia, and the Government and people of our country, I again offer condolences and prayers to all who lost a loved one during Hurricane Dorian.
All of their lives were important.
Each one of our brothers and sisters who died was a special person in their families and communities.
I ask all Bahamians to keep praying for their families. Pray that God’s mercy will comfort them in time. Hurricane Dorian was the strongest storm to ever strike our Bahamas.
It was also one of the strongest storms ever recorded anywhere in the world in human history.
Hurricane Dorian first struck Abaco a year ago with maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, gusts of 220 miles per hour and storm surge in excess of 20 feet.
Dorian caused $3.4 billion in losses and damage.
The areas in Abaco and Grand Bahama struck directly by the storm looked like war zones afterward.
Dorian tore homes from their foundations.
It washed away businesses.
Boats and containers were flung across neighborhoods and business districts like pieces of paper in the wind.
The storm destroyed water, electrical, and telecommunications infrastructure we built as a people over several decades.
It will take time to rebuild this vital infrastructure,
including the rebuilding of the utility infrastructure in Central Abaco.
Our work to restore Abaco and Grand Bahama has been constant in partnership with the residents of the various communities and our international partners.
We have made some progress, but not enough. There is still so much, much more to do.
When we saw the destruction Dorian caused, we immediately knew that no small island developing nation such as The Bahamas could respond on its own.
We made the decision to welcome in the largest
contingency of international partners in Bahamian history in response to this extraordinary natural disaster.
They worked along with the Government and Bahamian NGOs and Bahamian volunteers.
We understood that the best way for our people to get the help they needed in the shortest time was through a partnership of the Bahamas Government, Bahamian NGOs and volunteers and our international partners.
Today, I once again thank all the Bahamians and Bahamian groups along with the international agencies, NGOs and volunteers who helped in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and who are still working at restoration.
Your dedication and tireless work with the Government has been a blessing.
I pay special tribute and offer gratitude to the many individuals and businesses, domestic and international, who are helping to slowly rebuild the communities devastated by Hurricane Dorian.
It will take many years before Abaco and Grand Bahama are fully restored.
I fully acknowledge the frustration at how long many things have taken.
We pledge to communicate to you in a timelier and more effective manner.
On behalf of the Government, I acknowledge what
has not been done and the long and difficult road ahead.
The Government continues to do the hard work to restore and to rebuild the communities still hurting badly on this painful day of remembrance.
The Disaster Reconstruction Authority and the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama are through various media communicating some of the progress and the work that has been accomplished in the last year.
The hard and painstaking work continues to restore the devastated communities.
As the Hope Town Lighthouse stood through Dorian, withstanding its winds and waves, the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama were not defeated by the storm.
Dorian did not break your spirit.
Dorian did not break the Bahamian spirit.
The resilience of our people has been manifested in ways big and small.
Such resilience is like a beam of light from the
lighthouse, penetrating the darkness, providing a beacon and light for the way forward, no matter how long and difficult the journey, no matter the wide and treacherous shoals.
Bahamians are rebuilding their homes. Bahamians are rebuilding their businesses.
Our churches are rebuilding to continue their work of
healing and renewal.
Civic organizations are lending their vision and talent for more resilient communities.
We must rebuild for a new time in our history as we address with resilience and fortitude the many effects of climate change, including more powerful storms and rising sea levels.
I have no doubt that we will build back better. But, it will take time.
Each time we faced a crisis in the past as Bahamians we put our heads down and got to work together – black and white, rich and poor, young and older.
We are doing this again, even as we are also facing the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are strong when unified.
There is no challenge we cannot overcome.
Many hardworking Bahamians transformed these bare limestone rock islands generation after generation
into one of the more dynamic and successful small island states in the world and in the region.
With God’s blessing and the continued work of citizens, the Government, businesses, churches, civic groups, and international partners, Abaco and Grand Bahama will emerge in time from this even more prosperous and dynamic than they were before.
You have my abiding and unwavering commitment that I will continue to do all that I can to help to restore the lives and the communities of those devastated by Hurricane Dorian one year ago, today.
May the God of New Beginnings bless and guide the people of Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama.
And may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Thank you and good afternoon.