Throughout storm-battered towns that dot the Abaco island chain, Bahamians thought they heard something that offered hope to those whose lives were upended by Hurricane Dorian:
Only it wasn't true.
Homeless Bahamians -- thousands, if not hundreds -- who spent hours Saturday waiting in blistering heat, clutching their belongings wouldn't make it to
"They want to believe in something," said McIntosh, whose church,
"People want to hope that the rumor is true because they want to believe in something," McIntosh said, "then they find out it isn't."
McIntosh heard the
"I don't know where the rumor surfaced," Bootle-Laing said. "But when most people aren't prepared to cope with the difficulty of lack of water and lack of electricity, the news more or less spread quickly."
Most of those who had been lured to
The island's commercial hub was "utterly devastated," Bottle-Laing said. So it wasn't shocking, she added, to see hundreds of Abacoans waiting at airports, some of them periodically rushing small cargo planes, begging to get seats on board.
"It speaks volumes that so many people are willing to wait hopelessly to get out," she said. Some are fortunate. If they have a
Whitney and Shauqwan Bain -- a young couple from
The Bains and their families rode out the storm on plywood slabs in the mangled attic of their one-story home. The roof flew off halfway through the storm. They watched debris fly past and storm waters creep painfully close to the crown molding right under the ceiling beneath them.
"It was so bad that you just accepted that this was probably the end," said Shauqwan Bain, 24.
Such were the stories from some of the nearly 6,000 people who lived in
When the Bains did survive, it felt "like a zombie apocalypse," said
The Bains, like countless others, weren't sure whether they lost family or friends in the storm. On an island with downed phone lines and no cell reception, they considered anyone they hadn't seen in shelters or on the streets missing.
"People probably think I'm missing,"
The communications blackout fueled more misinformation. Some Bahamians on nearby islands believed the 120-mile
Stubbs, who from
"Before I heard my mother was safe, I was over there thinking the entire island was ravaged," Stubbs said. "But that's just not the case."
By the time Stubbs got to
"Such is life," she said. "Life without cell phones."
The death toll had risen to 43 by Saturday, though Bahamian officials suggested it would climb as they assessed the damage.
McIntosh, the pastor, wondered aloud whether his name was on that list. He hadn't heard from his son,
"All I want right now is for someone to walk over here, wave and say, 'Hi, I was in
He has no plans to leave
While some were desperate to flee, others refused to leave.
They watched others make the trek to
McIntosh's home had roof damage and a few broken windows, but, he said, it was nothing compared with the debris in images from
"If we leave, who will stay and rebuild?" he said. "We kind of look at this as a blessing in disguise. Something good with come of it. We, Bahamians, will be stronger because of this."
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