Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas — Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Chester Cooper, while bringing special remarks at the memorial service held in remembrance of the victims of Hurricane Dorian at Jubilee Cathedral on Sunday, September 4, 2022, said government must not and will not ever forget what Dorian did.
Scores of residents, including family, friends, parliamentarians, members of the senate, rescuers, civic organizations and students, gathered for the service as part of the activities planned over the weekend in observance of the third anniversary of the monster storm’s passage.
Songs and prayers were lifted up for the families of the victims and the island of Grand Bahama — still reeling from the Category 5 storm’s devastation — and praises were offered to God for sparing so many lives.
Deputy Prime Minister Cooper also thanked the clergy for being strong for their members and the community, even in their times of lack and distress.
“This month marks three years since Dorian came, changing so much about our nation and for many of you, I am sure you remember it as yesterday. The past few days in Abaco and Grand Bahama have been sobering for me and my family,” Minister Cooper said.
“We did not live through Dorian directly. We were like so many around the world who watched in horror as the monster storm descended upon or country. We were there in the aftermath, like so many, to witness the carnage, to touch our fellow man who had their very souls tested and watched others snatched away by the storm.”
Deputy Prime Minister Cooper said they spoke to many of the survivors and heard many stories of heartbreak, loss and survival. He said he doesn’t know that the world will ever grasp the extent of what many Bahamians went through and many likely, sadly, will not remember.
“And though I understand that, I am here to tell you, on behalf of Prime Minister Davis and the government and people of The Bahamas, as a nation we must not and we will not ever forget,” he said.
“We remember Dorian and all it wrought — not just so we can put it behind us, but so we are reminded of what was taken and why we cannot abandon those who are still here.”
Deputy Prime Minister Cooper said while we do not know the names of all who died, we mourn them just the same. While we are all tired and weary, he said we cannot rest until the restoration is complete.
“There are children who still cannot hear the rain,” he said. “You have many who still fear the sea, who cower when lighting strikes and who shake when the wind howls. Dorian has left us shaken and bent, but not broken.”
Grand Bahama Port Authority President Ian Rolle revealed that the 32 flowers carefully woven into the wreath displayed at the makeshift memorial at the front of the altar represented each of the lives that were lost in the storm in Grand Bahama.
“Today we remember the personal stories, the acts of heroism, the tragedies, the miracles and we’re so grateful and appreciative for the help we received from many of the local ministries and other ministries and NGOs all over the world in our hour of need,” Rolle said.
He called on everyone to remember the loved ones of Hurricane Dorian victims in Grand Bahama and Abaco who suffered a terrible loss — those who have been buried and those still missing — be it a wife, husband, mother, father, child, sister, brother and, for some an entire family.
Leader of the Opposition Michael Pintard pointed out that The Bahamas experienced the worst national disaster in its history, expressed condolences to those who lost loved ones, recalled those horrifying moments when he and his family felt their home being destroyed beneath them and called for there to be moving forward.
“Many people are still hurting; they are still suffering,” he said. “…What is clear to me is that there has to be a sense of urgency about how we help people to rebuild,” while giving his commitment to stand with Deputy Prime Minister Cooper and members of the government in their collective attempt to rebuild Grand Bahama and Abaco, which he adds, was needed in 2019, 2020, 2021 and surely needed right now.
In offering words of comfort to the families of the victims and the residents at-large, Grand Bahama Christian Council President Rev. Kenneth Lewis said the pain of losing a loved one never goes away but the promises of God to never leave us nor forsake us are sure.