On Easter weekend 2018, my husband and I took a much needed vacation to Grand Bahama Island where we stayed in a lovely resort in the port town of Freeport.
The island was recovering from years of abuse from the tropics as well as the island’s damage from Hurricane Irma which wreaked havoc across the Caribbean and left much of the businesses and amenities inoperable months before.
Despite this our spirits were not dampened one bit as the natural beauty of the island was captivating, and the people so lovely and kind.
Lucayan National Park stole our hearts with its white, pristine sandy beaches and aquamarine tide. The natural underground caves were like visions straight out of fairytales. Captivating and breathtaking to say the least…
On Easter Sunday 2018, we attended an Easter service at the resort officiated by a local church whose congregation were so kind and welcoming to us. Their faith and joy was infectious.
After the service we felt compelled to introduce ourselves and we were received with open arms like one of their own.
The pastor told me he would be traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina (two hours from our home) the following month for a mission trip to spread their message of Christian faith and perform outreach in the community. We hugged and instantly established a true and meaningful bond.
My husband and I had found ourselves smack dab in the middle of Paradise with the nicest of God’s people and pondered not returning home… just playing on those lovely shores forever.
It was a nice dream for the moment. But alas, our responsibilities and life back home beckoned.
When weather reports started to roll in a week ago of the development of a Category 5 Hurricane named Dorian which had set its sights on the Abacos, my heart sank.
As a native of Eastern North Carolina who grew up on the Coast, I am no foreigner to hurricanes and tropical weather. Storms have always been a part of my life.
When I was a freshman newspaper reporter—20 years ago — during my first month on the job in September 1999 my native home community in Beaufort County, NC fell victim to the devastating floods from Hurricane Floyd. I spent the next year covering flood victims’ stories and the multitude of relief efforts in my home state.
In my then 23 years of life, I had never been more aware of the travesties hurricanes leave behind than at that time. It was a time of self-growth for me and the realization that nothing in life is permanent. Each day a gift and without community to help one another in time of need, humanity will drown.
It seems storms have occurred more and more over the years and are now annual cringeworthy, commonplace events along the Atlantic.
It was no wonder after spending so much of my life beach-combing and adventuring through the marsh, surviving one storm after another only to witness the beauty of humanity and communities in the aftermath, I would feel at home in the Bahamas.
Grand Bahamians are strong people. I pray now in the days after such devastation has ripped their lives apart they will continue to witness to the world their strength and faith. I know I was blessed to meet them and visit their home.
I am praying for you all and those gorgeous sugary shores to return to glory.
But, I know you will need more than just prayer to rebuild your community and heal.
If you would like to donate to the Bahamian people, please do so here at the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Fund:
– Alison Paul Klakowicz
Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast
Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck
Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.