ABACO, BAHAMAS — Abaconians like Naydene Curry and Shannon Hutton are among the hundreds who were able to rebuild their homes or businesses thanks to assistance from the American Red Cross and Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE).

Curry, a life-long resident of Abaco, said that Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 was the worst storm of her life.

“It was scary, and you can’t even imagine how bad it was. Everything was gone, everything was gone,” Curry said.

She often tries to block out the bad memories of it, especially watching her house fill up with water and losing her roof. At 80 years old, she relied on neighbors and her adult children for a place to sleep while she figured out what would become of her home in the storm’s aftermath.

Through the American Red Cross and CORE, she received grant money to repair her home and get it back to a state where she could safely live in it again.

It filled her with joy to watch it be built again in the months after with funds from the Red Cross.

“It’s wonderful. I was happy and I thank God for sending y’all and I appreciate you all who come to help me,” she said.

“Very helpful because if it wasn’t for y’all, I couldn’t make it because I didn’t have the funds. My husband died in June and I was all alone. So, I appreciate it from my heart.”

Beyond helping hundreds of local families get their homes repaired, the Red Cross and CORE assisted small business owners in becoming operational after Dorian and slowed progress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hutton, who is originally from Nassau but who had been living on Abaco for eight years to bring her business idea to life, was one of those assisted.

At 24, she is one of the younger business owners on Abaco, and owns of one the only coffee shops in Marsh Harbour.

As of December 2020, Shannon Hutton was finally able to reopen her coffee shop business after being non-operational since the devastating Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. (HOLLY BAKER/AMERICAN RED CROSS)

“The best way to get over Dorian was to get open again,” she said.

Hutton’s Calypso Coffee House was among over 115 other small businesses to be given grants of up to $10,000 to help restart their businesses, which Hutton said made a huge difference in getting her doors open once again.

Hurricane Dorian kept her business shuttered for over a year as she had to find a new location and procure all the elements to have her coffee shop run smoothly again but as of December 1, 2020 she was back in business and was able to hire three local employees.

“We’re the only actual coffee shop as of right now that you can go to… Trying to be a little bit of normal in a not-so-normal place in these not-so-normal times,” Hutton said.

She added: “I hope that it gives people hope — it gave me hope. Thanks to the Red Cross and CORE and their grant of $10,000, I was able to get back on my feet.”

The American Red Cross provided funds for the home and business repair programs, while CORE worked closely with residents to ensure they were building back their homes and structures up to code and working with reputable local contractors.

CORE and community mobilizers from the Bahamas Red Cross oversaw the entire process and worked to guide the beneficiaries like Curry and Hutton on their path toward recovery.

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