Editor’s Note: Abaco, Grand Bahama and the Comeback to Come

abaco grand bahama comeback 1The Sea of Abaco.

By Alexander Britell

On Sept. 8, 1932, the biggest storm ever recorded in Abaco pummeled the island, destroying hundreds of homes and killing 10 people, just enough to land it on page 22 of the Sept. 9 edition of the New York Times.

Today, Hurricane Dorian and its landfall in Abaco and Grand Bahama are on the front page of every newspaper around the world.

That our hearts and minds and attentions are so intensely focused on the events and people in the northwestern Bahamas this week is a testament not just to the power of the Internet but to what this wonderful corner of the world, The Bahamas, has come to mean to so many around the world, in the last eight decades.

The horror of Hurricane Dorian is at the forefront of the news this week, an unholy tempest that has brought devastation to these corners of the 700-island chain of The Bahamas: Abaco and Grand Bahama.

There is nothing in these pages that can do justice to what has been seen and felt in Abaco and Grand Bahama, the tragedy and suffering inflicted by the wrath of Mother Nature, the periodic price of paradise, homes destroyed and lives lost.

But as we send our prayers — and, most importantly, our relief, it is not just about today.

It is about tomorrow, and all the tomorrows for Abaco and Grand Bahama, and how we can all make a difference.

We are blessed to be able to tell the daily story of this most beautiful place in the world, and it is the unfortunate charge of these pages to also write of catastrophes beyond our ability to describe them.

But what we have learned is the uncanny, impossibly inspiring resilience of the people who inhabit the islands of this region, from Grand Bahama down to the southern edge of the Caribbean Sea.

And after every storm, after every Matthew, after every Irma, after every Maria, the people of these islands strengthen. They build, they grow, and they come back even greater.

Abaco and Grand Bahama, two wonderful, beautiful, magical places, will be strengthened by their people and will rebuild, as they always do, as Bahamians always do.

But you can help.

And that means, in the short term, sending relief to the Bahamas Red Cross or the work Jose Andres is doing to provide food for Abaconians and Grand Bahamians right now.

But there is another way to help, and a lasting way to keep helping Abaco and Grand Bahama and the people of The Bahamas — to come back to The Bahamas right now.

The Bahamas derives almost half of its Gross Domestic Product from tourism; travel and tourism are, plainly, the lifeblood of this 700-island country.

Every visit you make, every dollar you spend, every flight you book, helps. It helps The Bahamas, and that means it helps Abaco and it helps Grand Bahama.

Bahamians live in one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth, and they are generous enough to share it with all of us, a happy bargain that turns beauty and hospitality into daily sustenance.

And, as tourism officials rightly pointed out on Monday, Abaco and Grand Bahama are two destinations amid 700 islands and cays in this gorgeous, sprawling destination, and the impact you make in places like Nassau and Cat Island will also help make their way to Abaco.

Abaco will rebuild. Grand Bahama will rebuild. They will soon have their tomorrows, and they will be ready to welcome you far sooner than you think.

The sad reality is that, while the news pages around the world have placed Abaco and Grand Bahama on the front pages today, they will soon forget.

For most, there is a story only in destruction. And even today, while destruction is on the front page, recovery will not even make it to page 22.

But you can not forget.

And you need to come back to The Bahamas. Don’t cancel your trip. Book a second trip.

Go first to Nassau or Eleuthera, or Bimini or Harbour Island, Cat Island or San Salvador.

And then to Abaco, and then to Grand Bahama.

And then come back again.

Alexander Britell is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Caribbean Journal. He can be reached at abritell@caribjournal.com.