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After Dorian, Bahamas prepares for another hit — to its crucial tourism industry

Chabeli Herrera, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

"Because they are out of commission, that is going to have an impact on the economy of the Bahamas," he said. "Any facilities to host tourists are no longer there, persons who work in the tourism industry have nowhere to live. ... it's going to take years to recover from this. It's not an overnight thing."

The storm has displaced families like the Jarretts, who own 12 vacation villas in Freeport. They got on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas when it picked up 261 evacuees in Grand Bahama on Saturday and got off in Nassau, not yet sure where to go next.

Their villas, on the south side of Freeport, were battered by the storm. Doors are missing, paint is peeling off, fences and trees are down. The structures survived enough that they can now serve as homes for the company's displaced employees who lost their homes to Dorian. Owner Emile Jarrett said he let them move in with generators when he heard some of his staff members had nowhere to go.

But he and his family left the business behind. They'll head to Florida to pick up building supplies at Home Depot because there are no supplies back home. He doesn't know when they'll return to Freeport.

"There is no revenue, there is no anchor" he said at the port in Nassau on Saturday. "It comes at a time when tourism is generally down anyway in September. It couldn't be worse."

A family member in Florida set up a GoFundMe for them in the hopes they can rebuild the business. But if travelers don't return, there is little hope for Sea Breeze Villas.

 

"Without you guys," he said, "no us."

(Orlando Sentinel staff writer Chabeli Herrera and photographer Joe Burbank are aboard the Mariner of the Seas.)

(c)2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

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