Open forum: Two Years Ago, We Were Just Like The Bahamas

Moleto A. Smith Jr.

In a moment of reflection, I realize that throughout my entire professional life in the Virgin Islands, almost 30 years, I’ve worked every storm that has come this way — in very significant ways too, including coordinating shelters, facilitating special needs evacuations, supporting disaster SNAP and Individual and Family Assistance Programs with FEMA, working in the emergency operations center, organizing and dispensing emergency prescription medicines and host of other activities. From Luis, Marilyn, Bertha, Hortense, Omar, (Wrong Way) Lenny, and of course Irma and Maria, to Dorian, I’ve worked alongside some very good, talented and committed people.

What I’ve learned over the years is that you never get used to the human toll — the suffering that follows. Regardless of how we surmise it, people suffer; homes are destroyed; families separate; many lose their entire earthly possessions of a lifetime of their hard work; some lose their lives, while others break under the weight of the stress. During these traumatic times, communities usually put all else aside and come together to lessen the burden of the intense despair.

Recovery is never easy or quick. The longest recovery is the recovery that must occur within the mind, emotion and spirit of those, like us here in the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, and now the Bahamas, who have survived to tell the tale. We are all eye witnesses to life altering tragedies that can only be fully understood by experiencing them.

Please, keep the people of The Bahamas in constant prayer and be of help when it’s called upon. Two years ago, we were just like The Bahamas. May God keep all of them, and us. And, please, be a blessing to someone!

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Editor’s note: Moleto A. Smith Jr. is the executive director of the St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation and a former gubernatorial candidate.

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  1. My fear with the Bahama’s is that they do not have the full force of a major government backing up their recovery efforts. The US federal government has made a huge investment in the USVI and PR recovery efforts. I don’t know if there is the same level of outside support for the people of the Bahamas. Under the best of circumstances it will sill be a slow and painful recovery, for the Bahamas, my (our) prayers go out to them.

  2. I certainly agree with John and to an enormous extent, the Bahamas was impacted far greater than the USVI and Eastern Caribbean. The death toll is staggering and the economy will take a drastic hit and years to recover from. The Bahamas being made up of 700 islands only has three which drive their economy; those islands being New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahama, of which two are completely out of commission. Yes, tourism is also an economic engine of the Bahamas, but that will undoubtedly take a hit as well. Let’s not forget 70,000 people have suddenly become unemployed and homeless, pushing all of these people, aside from a handful who temporarily relocated outside of this island nation, onto an already overcrowded island, New Providence. It’s impossible for any independent island nation to quickly rebound after taking such a devastating hit. As a Bahamian it’s quite worrisome.

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