Geography and Environmental Studies
In September, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the island of Abaco, its surrounding cays, and on Grand Bahama in The Bahamas. As a result of the storm, an estimated 12,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Marsh Harbour, the commercial hub of Abaco, and the surrounding cays, the small, low-lying islands off the coast of Abaco, received the majority of the damage. In addition to housing some of the most expensive resorts in The Bahamas, Marsh Harbour had two large shantytowns, the Mudd and the Peas, which were largely home to Haitian migrants who worked at the resorts and private homes on the neighbouring cays. The physical, economic and social impacts of Dorian have highlighted the pre-existing inequalities and internal tensions between wealth and poverty in Abaco, which have influenced the capacity of households to cope and adapt to displacement. As the nation has attempted to rebuild and restore services, many people remain displaced, relying on disaster relief and assistance in the capital of Nassau, across the more remote ‘family’ islands and, for those who have returned, in their home settlements. The ‘family’ islands are peripheral to the urban core of the capital, with residents often critiquing government for providing fewer resources and less attention to infrastructure in these outlying areas. Eleuthera, the largest of a chain of small ‘family’ islands, and Spanish Wells, an island off the northern tip of Eleuthera, became points of evacuation and relocation for Dorian survivors from Abaco and the surrounding cays. Through an analysis of information collected by humanitarian response organizations on Spanish Wells and Eleuthera, this Policy Points provides an overview of the Hurricane Dorian evacuee population on these two islands in the months following the storm and identifies opportunities to strengthen key support strategies in future hurricane response initiatives.
“Disaster displacement: Examining the post-Dorian experience on Eleuthera.” IMRC Policy Points, Issue XVIII, August 2020.