Dorian, a form of the Greek word dore meaning ‘gift,’ has been anything but for the inhabitants of the Caribbean and much of the Eastern coast of North America. Over the past two weeks, Dorian, initially considered a tropical depression developed into a full-fledged hurricane and left devastation in its wake. On August 24, the National Hurricane Center first announced the storm in an advisory; it wasn’t until four days later on August 28 that Dorian would officially be declared a hurricane just before it struck its first victims in the Virgin Islands. By August 30, Dorian was determined to be a Category 4 storm which is the second-highest classification for Hurricanes, characterized by maximum sustained winds of 156 miles per hour.
Since its attack on the Virgin Islands, Dorian has slowly been working its way up the Carribean and North America’s east coast. Puerto Rico, still recovering from Hurricane Maria that struck in 2017, was fortunate enough to avoid Dorian’s path. Other islands were not so lucky. The Bahamas received the brunt of the storm where it rested for nearly two days, leaving little optimism for anything to survive. The Abaco Islands, of the northern Bahamas, were absolutely devastated. BBC News reported that an estimated 90% of all infrastructure on these islands were damaged if not completely destroyed by the storm. On Sunday, the death count was 43 though officials expect that number to be nowhere near representative of the actual toll of life as there remains thousands of people reported missing after being washed away in the tides.
After the Bahamas, Dorian calmed down to a Category 1 hurricane, but continued along the Atlantic coast until finding its next victim in the Carolinas. The North Carolina coast was struck with flash floods that left homes and businesses in shambles. Dorian has since moved away from the U.S. and calmed into a post-tropical cyclone as it arrived in Nova Scotia, where it produced heavy rain and winds strong enough to topple trees, leaving an estimated nearly half a million people without power or utilities.
The Bahamas remain the most heavily affected in the wake of the storm. The United Nations’ World Food Program estimates that approximately 70,000 Bahamians are in need of food and shelter; their homes and businesses having been obliterated. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that it is now working with the Bahamian government to provide emergency shelter, food and medical care. Residents of the Abaco Islands are being evacuated to Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas, or Florida. The U.S. and other countries have sent planes and ships in order to accommodate the masses.
The reach of Hurricane Dorian extends beyond just those who live in the affected areas. Hope College’s strength lies in its community and that community extends beyond the borders of Holland. It is the duty of Hope’s community to lift up and provide support for alumni, students and their families and all others who now have to begin the process of sorting through the rubble and rebuilding that which was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.