My name is Lawanda Boodle.
If you’d ask me to describe myself, I would simply say that I am a hard-working single mother of a 12-year-old son. A family woman. A child of the Bahamas.
I was born in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, but spent most of my childhood in neighboring Murphy Town. I’m currently employed with the Ministry of Tourism in Marsh Harbour.
I probably don’t have to tell you that I love my beautiful hometown, located in the Northern Bahamas where there are approximately 28,000 people. It consists of many cays like Hope Town where the famous Man-O-War lighthouse is, which is known for its boat buildings and canvas bags, and my favorite, Green Turtle Cay, where the world-famous goombay smash was created by my aunt, Miss Emily of Miss Emily’s Blue Bar. I may be a bit bias, but trust me, goombay smash is the best drink on the island.
I spent my entire life in Abaco and made a nice living for myself there. Because, like my father, the great Wilbut Boodle always said, “If you want something in life you have to work hard for it.” To great success, I was able to purchase a two-bedroom home in Spring City, Abaco. It was a cherished symbol that my steadfast efforts had paid off.
The week of August 31st I heard a tropical storm was developing near the island, so I made all the proper preparations for it. I purchased can goods and prepared shutters for my home–I thought I was equipped to deal with the events that awaited us. But on the morning of September, 1 2019, it was like a nightmare. At around 2pm, the eye of Hurricane Dorian was over Abaco. I heard the wind whirling like a monster, I saw cars moving and large objects flying into houses. The roofs on homes were ripping off.
Before I knew it, my own covering had been whisked away, and I became deathly afraid for my son’s life and my own. As the roof of my once beautiful home started to fall in, a flood of water began rushing the interior. While this unfolded I became terrified for our life. I held my son tight and ran for safety. As the winds were hailing I feared us running out into the storm because the unknown waited outside. But at that time, it was the best choice.
We ran from house to house for safety and I prayed to God for protection. “Jesus!” I called out.
Because of His grace, we were guarded and after the eye had passed, we situated ourselves in a shelter that contained hundreds of people in one area. We slept on the hard cement floor which was the only solution until the next day. It was so painful and uncomfortable. Not knowing if my sisters and family were okay made me sick. I cried every second praying they were ok. I never felt so scared in my entire life.
As I walked out of the shelter the next morning, I saw roofs off houses, cars destroyed, mothers crying out and people bleeding. It was a total disaster.
As I came closer to my home, tears ran down my face as I saw the destruction that was caused. I lost everything I ever worked so hard for. After two days I was able to drive into Marsh Harbour, and my heart instantly broke down when I saw the state it was in. The death toll was in the hundreds and many people were still missing.
On the Thursday after the storm, I had to fight my way, son in tow, with the clothes on our back to get off the island of Abaco. There was death and destruction all around us, and a lot of dead bodies floating about. Although I love my home, I knew being there wasn’t healthy.
I flew into Nassau and later to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to get a mental break from the chaos. Since the hurricane, I’ve been having nightmares and crying every day. It’s really hard and I am trying to be as strong as I can for my son. But he’s asking me so many questions and I don’t have all the answers.
In the weeks since Dorian’s havoc, I’ve found my way back to the Bahamas, and I’m currently trying to rebuild on the island’s capital. Nassau will be where I start my new life until, of course, Abaco is back to normal.
If you would like to help Hurricane Dorian victims, the Islands of the Bahamas has set up a trusted website to make donations. Visit https://www.bahamas.com/relief to provide monetary support and/or needed supplies.