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Left with nothing by Dorian, survivors hope to catch ride to South Florida

Jim Wyss, Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco Islands -- Sitting in front of a destroyed primary school doubling as a precarious homeless shelter, Alan Alexandre clutched a small backpack, rocked himself and cried.

Many of his neighbors -- also left destitute by Hurricane Dorian -- were heading to the dock or the airport to try to catch free rides back to Nassau, where they had family and friends. Alexandre said there was only one place he belonged: Miami.

Alexandre, 46, spent more than half his life in South Florida before "getting in trouble" and getting deported to his native Bahamas -- a country he barely knew.

But now that his life is upside down he yearns to be close to his sister in the United States. A woman he hasn't been able to call as communications remain largely offline.

"They don't even know I'm alive," he said. "Please let them know."

The Bahamas and South Florida lie just 180 miles or so apart and ties run deep. Almost everyone on Abaco seems to have a connection across the straits. And after Dorian raked the island as a Category 5 monster almost a week ago, many have dreams of starting over there.

 

Bahamians are allowed to travel to the United States on the basis of a clean criminal record. But some U.S. politicians have been asking for Washington to extend Temporary Protected Status to Dorian refugees and broaden the criteria for entry.

Dorian did so much deep and lasting damage that it's easy to see why an exodus is underway. There's no power and no water. The island's only radio station is off the air. The businesses that drove the economy -- the hotels, the harbors, the restaurants -- are gone. So is most of the housing.

Along with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others, Herod Innocend had come to the dock in Marsh Harbour at 3 a.m. Saturday in hopes of catching a boat ride to Nassau. But that's just the first leg of a trip that he hopes will ultimately end in West Palm Beach, where he has family.

"There's no food, no water," he said, gesturing to Abaco at large. "There's nothing left to live for here, not right now. We got to go."

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