Devastation from natural disasters is unsettling no matter where it takes place, but as the photos of the destruction in the Bahamas began to appear this week, I felt a special kind of sadness.
Hurricane Dorian stalled and battered the region with relentless winds and torrential rains for more than two days, leaving little in its wake but debris and misery.
I was fortunate enough to visit that part of the world in 2015. One of the things that struck me the most was the contrast between the tourists and the locals.
It is a region of unimaginable beauty, which is what draws affluent people from around the world.
However, many of the residents of the area live in what can only be described as abject poverty.
It’s that contrast that I think about when I hear stories about destruction in paradise.
When bad things happen, the tourists the wealthy people simply stay away until things are put back to some sort of order.
How, though, do you rebuild your life when you had nothing to start with?
My journey involved a 10-day cruise on a fancy ship. Each day, my brother and I took excursions inland.
The way the local people live, once you get past the shiny facade put up for the benefit of the tourists, is startling.
We saw many people living in shacks, that to my eyes, didn’t look fit for human habitation.
I suspect the people who live in those place don’t have a lot of resources to fall back on.
In the US, we might take things like homeowners insurance for granted.
How, though, do you pay for insurance on a shack, especially if you are barely able to put food on your table?
On my trip, I passed through entire neighborhoods that looked like junkyards.
When an entire region is flattened by a hurricane, where does one even start to pick up the pieces?
Perhaps I am looking at it from the wrong angle.
The people I encountered generally seemed to be a resilient lot. Maybe it is a matter of expectations.
It’s possible, people who live in the path of hurricanes have a different view of permanence than those of us who have never had to deal with that kind of threat.
I suspect people who live in the path of hurricanes don’t sit around worrying about the next storm any more than those who live near a volcano spend time worrying about the next eruption.
Still, it must be difficult to put a positive spin on things and remember you live in a tropical paradise when your house has just blown away, your town is flooded, and you have no access to food or potable water.
Tourists may avoid the devastated areas for a time, but those residents who are left behind in the aftermath of the storm will have a long, difficult rebuilding process in front of them.