MARSH HARBOUR, BALIPOST.com – In the desolation left after Hurricane Dorian carved a murderous path across the northern Bahamas, six men dressed in immaculate white overalls zip a corpse into a body bag.
Hands and face protected by latex gloves and masks, they hoist their grim discovery onto an old flatbed truck alongside other victims, hopping on board themselves.
The truck makes its sad journey through Marsh Harbour town on Abaco Island along a route where almost every building has been damaged.
Going door-to-door, the team carries out the grisly but vital task of removing the dead from flattened houses, working in brisk winds that offer a faint reminder of the ferocious storm that reduced much of the island to rubble and left at least 20 people dead.
They collect one body from among several shipping containers thrown around by the hurricane’s destructive force.
Keen to reassure his family in the US, one survivor watching the body collection tells AFP: “We are doing great — Gilbert in Miami — we are going great.
“It is just the place is messed up but we are doing fine, we are doing okay, your brothers and sisters are okay,” he said.
– Cataclysm –
The blue, sun-kissed skies more usually associated with a tropical paradise have returned, yet a glance across Marsh Harbour offers up nothing but horror — the grim aftermath of a cataclysm.
“There was a big two-story building over there,” says former fire chief Norwell Gordon, gesturing, walkie-talkie in hand, to a sea of rubble punctuated by the occasional half-standing facade or twisted vestiges of an electricity pylon.
“It knocked off the top of this,” Gordon adds, pointing to another concrete building reduced to little more than its front entrance and ground floor walls.
As far as the eye can see, buildings have been reduced to splintered wood, trees stripped of their branches. Low-lying areas stagnate under flood water as householders stack damaged sofas, cupboards and piles of clothes in their front yards.
Two young men frantically pull suitcases on wheels as if trying to outrun ghosts, or perhaps in search of them.
The death toll appears mercifully low set against the destruction visible in every direction, but Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis expects the number to rise. (AFP)