A report by Manuel Crespo Feliciano for AccuWeather.
“Mudd gone. No Mudd. No Mudd. No house. “
His eyes glassy, with a halo of despair and resignation, convey the same crushing desperation seen in many other eyes in an area of the Bahamas known as The Mudd.
It is one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian, located on Grand Abaco Island. Commonly described as a shantytown, The Mudd is populated, in overwhelming majority, by Haitian migrants who have settled in this place for decades.
“From the air, it looks like it was put into a blender and spit out. From the ground, is even worse, ” narrates AccuWeather National Reporter Jonathan Petramala describing the destruction he surveyed from an aircraft.
Evidence of that horrific destruction is seen in the shocking images captured by AccuWeather: the pieces of residences of a Haitian community that once stood; a shipping container about 45 feet long scattered everywhere as if it were made of aluminum foil; and hundreds of Haitian migrants, who for years have battled against cultural differences and the stigma of being the “other” and are now trying to survive the aftermath of Dorian.
For hundreds of years, Haitian nationals have been migrating and settling in the Bahamas. In fact, in some regions of the island chain, Haitian nationals account for more than 20% of the population, according to a study published by The College of The Bahamas Research Journal.
However, the study points out, Haitian migrants are constantly associated with illegal immigration status, poor education and poverty, which makes it impossible for them to be able to integrate into Bahamian society and be able to aspire to a better quality of life than they left in their native country.
Language barriers also prevent Haitian migrants from fully participating in society. In this case, this barrier could have also taken away the possibility of knowing the monstrous hurricane they would face.
“They probably did not believe what was going on. They don’t even move. And many people died, ” one of the lucky Haitian survivors who was traveling through The Mudd told AccuWeather, his voice splattered with hints of a Creole accent.
Since Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas on Sunday as a Category 5 storm, and unleashed a long, slow-moving assault on the islands, at least 30 deaths have been confirmed and the government fears the death toll could rise substantially as officials continue to explore the damage.
“Many people gone, dead.”
“Everything gone. I lost everything.”
These are the musings of the survivors, many of whom have been temporarily located on the outskirts of a municipal building and have created a makeshift camp where they gather the few pieces of clothing they managed to rescue and hang their laundry in the tree branches and on power lines.
Others have chosen to leave the place.
As mandated by the Afro-Caribbean tradition, they load their few balanced belongings in their heads and mobilize to the already established aid centers, where the situation — hopefully — is a little better.
Also, they leave The Mudd because violence has begun to take over the place. Looting has occurring in broad daylight, and many fear that, due to the lack of government presence in the area, chaos will unfold and more people will die.
“This is it,” one islander told Petramala. “This is the calm before it just all goes to hell.”
“Is like a Western town. You hear gun shots all night long. Everyone is scavenging what they can. The need to get here and set up martial law and shut down this town down, ” Shane Cook, a resident of the area, said in an interview with AccuWeather.