Bahamians displaced by Dorian seek solace, community in South Florida – NBC News

MIAMI — Hurricane Dorian killed four members of Cleora Patricia Burton’s family in the Bahamian city of Freeport, damaged her home and left her and her two children with no water, electricity or sense of security.

So when she heard a cruise ship was taking people off the island of Grand Bahama to the United States, she made a decision to leave and go to South Florida, as thousands of other Bahamians faced an uncertain future in the wake of the mass destruction caused by the Category 5 storm.

“What are we going to do? Where are we going to go? How are we going to survive this? That’s why we came,” Burton, 55, said from Christ Episcopal Church, founded by Bahamian settlers, in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. She and her children, Hannah, 16, and Blair, 21, are living with a cousin who brought them to the church that day before a noon service.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “We don’t know how we’re going to go home. Are we going to get back?”

Miami and the Bahamas share a rich history going back to before the city’s founding, and as Bahamians displaced by Dorian have come to South Florida, the Bahamian community there has come together in worry for loved ones, a passion to help rebuild and prayers for the islands’ recovery.

Christ Episcopal Church has served as a donation center during the relief effort, and throughout the day on Wednesday people came in and out with donations for relief efforts and asked how they could volunteer to help.

“We’ve been here collecting every day,” the Rev. Jonathan Archer, the church rector, said. “The level of devastation and loss of life there is immeasurable.”

The Rev. Jonathan Archer of the Christ Episcopal Church in Miami. Saul Martinez / for NBC News

A little more than a week ago, Hurricane Dorian ravaged Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands as the strongest hurricane to hit the Bahamas on record, wreaking havoc across the area in a sustained 48-hour assault. At least 50 people were known to have been killed, but Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Wednesday night that the death toll was expected to rise significantly.

About 1,300 people were registered as missing as of Thursday afternoon, according to Bahamian officials.

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