October 22nd, 2020

Locals help with hurricane cleanup in the Bahamas

By Kalinowski, Tim on October 29, 2019.

Eric Foster, Leah Parker and Nolan Meyer recently returned from a two-week deployment with disaster-response organization Team Rubicon helping with recovery efforts in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski



When Hurricane Dorian made landfall over the Bahamas on Sept. 1 and stalled, the nearby islands absorbed 295 km/h winds for well over 24 hours. The resulting devastation was beyond description.

In the aftermath, Team Rubicon Canada, a disaster relief organization which specializes in post-disaster cleanup, arrived in Marsh Harbour on Abaco Island with three Lethbridge volunteers in tow, Nolan Meyer, Eric Foster and Leah Parker, to try to help the devastated locals pick up the broken pieces of their lives.

“It was decimated,” recalls Meyer. “When you get (on site) there were vehicles overturned, houses ripped apart, roofs gone, twisted metal – it looked like bombs had gone off. Hurricane Dorian actually sat over top of Marsh Harbour, where we were deployed to, for just about 30 hours; so there was virtually nothing left.

“You look around and you take pause about how much people are going to have to do to reclaim their lives and rebuild their lives,” he added. “It will take generations, probably, for these people.”

The three spent their days in Marsh Harbour clearing roadways, mucking out homes and structures, and assessing damage while wearing Tyvek suits and masks for protection.

“To my knowledge (Dorian) was the second strongest-hurricane to occur in Atlantic ever, as far as written history goes,” states Foster. “This was an historical storm, and I knew I wanted to be part of the recovery process to give back to people who really need it.”

“It’s the simpler things in life you appreciate (coming back),” agrees Parker. “The friends. The family. And not the accumulation of stuff. I saw at so many places we were tearing out their life as far as possessions went. It didn’t matter if it was Versace or if it was Levi’s; it didn’t matter. It was all destroyed; it was all going. So when it comes right down to it, what actually gives you value in your life? It’s not possessions.”

All three say they would go again into another disaster zone with Team Rubicon Canada if needed. Because, in the end, it’s about bringing love and concern to people facing the worse circumstances of their lives, says Foster.

“Seeing people so desperate for help, it kind of sparks something inside of you,” Foster says. “So instead of sitting here I need to go there and help with whatever I can.”

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