For most of my life, the Bahamas have been an idyllic island paradise known for their rich Caribbean beauty and culture of relaxation. I recall vividly many years ago as part of my honeymoon cruise, our ship stopped in the Bahamas, where my husband and I disembarked to enjoy hiking and taking in the beauty of a place surrounded by beautiful azure water sparkling like a glorious crown jewel. Now, these island treasures face an uncertain future in the wake of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, which has left untold dead and many thousands of people homeless.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the thousands of families affected, with lives upended by the storm. Imagine surviving through three days of pounding with sustained winds of more than 150 miles per hour, intense storm surge and as much as three feet of rain. Those who survived emerged only to find their entire communities and lives washed away. Some have described the damage as similar to that wrought by a nuclear bomb.
The emotional state of families affected by Hurricane Dorian cannot be explained in words. Trauma, as they have experienced, will need to be dealt with for years as they seek to rebuild their lives and their mental health.
As storms like this become increasingly commonplace, the rest of the world will face daunting moral choices about how to respond with humanitarian aid, or even help to relocate thousands of people living in vulnerable low-lying places to permanent havens of safety.
I pray that our nation will always hold true to our historic values espoused in welcoming others to our shores. In watching images of these tired and traumatized families looking for safe passage to another shore and an uncertain future, I’m reminded by the word inscribed on the tablet held by the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
© Tyra Manning 2019