Yes, I live in Minnesota, but Hurricane Dorian hit close to home for my family. I’ll explain.
The images are apocalyptic.
Dorian slammed into the northern islands of the Bahamas Labor Day weekend. 10 days ago. Devastation on a scale rarely seen. The Category 5 monster packed flooding rain and winds close to 200 mph…and stalled out directly over those Bahamian islands for 30 hours.
In the information overload world we live in now, it can be so easy to see the images on TV, hear the words the talking heads are saying…but not really connect to the reality of it.
Unless you have a personal connection.
Patrick Roberts came from Sandy Point on the Abaco Island of the Bahamas as high school student back in the early 1980’s to live with my wife Jacque’s family here in Rochester, MN. They graduated from Mayo H.S. together back in 1984. My father and mother in law Ron and Lois Radke and family opened their home and hearts to young Mr. Roberts. He became a son. Young Patrick Roberts was quite a basketball player back in our 1980’s days of short shorts and knee high white socks:
As great a basketball player as Patrick was…he was and is 100x a better man. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to know so many great folks in my Machinery Pete travels over the past 30 years. Patrick is as good as they come. Salt of the earth. Do anything for you. Anything. Always. Huge heart.
Now Patrick and the people of Abaco Island in the Bahamas need our help. All our help.
Last night I drove 90 minutes from Rochester up to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. At 11:30 pm my brother in law Steve and I picked up Patrick’s wife Rose, daughter Sonovia and her 3 daughters, ages 6, 8, and 15. Patrick’s precious granddaughters. We loaded up our 2 cars and drove home to Rochester. At 1 am we arrived at Steve and wife Jayne’s (my wife Jacque’s sister) home.
New home for a time for Patrick’s wife, daughter and granddaughters.
Thankfully the Roberts family came through Hurricane Dorian ok. They are alive and physically uninjured. Their community of Sandy Point on Abaco Island is some 30 or 40 miles away from the larger town of Marsh Harbor. Sandy Point had damage, and actually a tornado on Labor Day, but came through comparatively ok.
Marsh Harbor was absolutely flattened.
On the ride back to Rochester from the Minneapolis airport late last night Rose relayed what the past week has been…her 76 and 78 year old parents went to bigger/safer Marsh Harbor the day before Dorian hit to stay with Rose’s sister. They were not able to make contact with them for days.
Imagine the not knowing as hell swirled around you.
Thankfully Rose’s parents are ok. They had to sleep in water for 2 nights as the flood waters in Marsh Harbor elevated beyond imagination. The day after Dorian blew out to sea Rose and Patrick’s long time neighbor lady had a heart attack and passed away. Funeral is this weekend. Rose and Patrick’s grandson Trico weathered Dorian with them in Sandy Point then set out to check on and help any folks they could. Big heart just like his Grandpa Patrick.
Trico learned one of his good friends in Marsh Harbor was killed. He went out in the worst of the storm to help folks who were trapped and he was hit by debris and didn’t make it.
Rose said Trico is very sad.
Patrick and Rose’s granddaughters all went to school in Marsh Harbor. The school is gone. Oldest granddaughter Lexi (15) hasn’t been able to connect with one of her best friends who lived in Marsh Harbor. Doesn’t know if she made it. And while Sandy Point came through ok damage-wise, most all the folks in town either work in Marsh Harbor or are connected there in many ways.
Rose said the lines for gas to power generators have been 4-5 hours long in Sandy Point this week. They have a small generator, but only run it sporadically…to save gas. Imagine trying to lie down to sleep at the end of a day, all these myriad worries running through your head…and oh by the way the temperature in the house at night is 90 degrees.
Everything is fluid. Not safe. Food and water deliveries are happening, but there is desperation. Understandably so.
And there is death.
Rose said officials were not allowing travel to Marsh Harbor now…the smell of death and decaying bodies is too strong.
So Patrick set to work this week, amid the chaos, to arrange for Rose, Sonovia and the 3 granddaughters to come to Rochester to live with his long ago and forever Minnesota family. The girls should be in school here next week.
I humbly bring you this personal family story…to try and help with relief efforts underway. This is going to take an on-going effort. The Bahamian people and the people of Abaco Island are wonderful folks. They need our help now.
Here is a link to the Red Cross relief effort, direct link to their donation page: https://tinyurl.com/y24xxels
Beyond financial help, they need our prayers.
In the longer term view, which is so difficult at this moment of dealing with unprecedented devastation, the Bahamas and in particular those northern most islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas, will need business dollars to somehow begin flowing again.
If you are an avid game fisherman, or know any who are, let me introduce you to…my friend and brother Patrick Roberts. Patrick has been an expert fishing guide for the Blackfly Lodge (http://www.blackflylodge.com/) on Abaco Island for many years. Plan your fishing trip of a lifetime to go visit Patrick. He is legend in the biz. Here’s a picture from an outing where he put his good friend Darren Clarke, winner of the 2011 British Open golf championship, on to a prize catch:
Sorry, I forget what type of fish that is. We don’t have them in our 10,000 Lakes here in Minnesota. A few more pics of Patrick doing what Patrick does.
Contact Blackfly Lodge and ask for Patrick Roberts…tell 'em Machinery Pete told you to call. My brother Patrick will put you on the fish. And trust me, the time you get to spend out on the water with Patrick will be a blessing to your life, and you will come away with a great friend: http://www.blackflylodge.com/