Hurricane Dorian evacuees spend holidays in South Florida

(WSVN) - Bahamians are still struggling after Hurricane Dorian, and many evacuees are spending Christmas in South Florida while they continue to rebuild back home. 7’s Brian Entin shows us how they have no home for the holidays.

Cellphone video: “What used to be my house.”

Like so many Bahamians, the Williams family lost everything in Hurricane Dorian.

Their Marsh Harbour home was leveled, and for the past four months, Crystal and her children, Stephan and Ellisha, have been living with extended family in Lauderdale Lakes.

Crystal Williams, Hurricane Dorian evacuee: “A lot of people look at your life, and they feel as if going through the storm was the worst. No, it’s the aftermath.”

Crystal is a single mom and worked as a taxi driver in the Bahamas, but legally, she is not allowed to work in the U.S., so money has been tight.

Stephan Williams Hurricane Dorian evacuee: “You have family and friends you want to see, but you can’t see, so it’s really a hard thing to do.”

Crystal Williams: “We had to sit down. We had the conversation that we can’t afford to have a Christmas this year. That we will catch up next year.”

The Williams don’t have a Christmas tree or presents this year because they are saving every dollar to rebuild their home in Marsh Harbour.

They have not needed help with food and essentials but plenty of other Bahamian families have.

Sari Vatske, Feeding South Florida: “Especially to think that families aren’t going to have a holiday because of food. That’s sad.”

Feeding South Florida is helping about 20 Bahamian families living in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Sari Vatske: “There is one family that has about 27 folks in their household. There is one family that is trying to get back there for the Christmas holiday, so as long as people need our support, we will continue to serve them.”

The families pick up groceries and other necessitates in this food pantry.

Sari Vatske: “I think families are definitely looking forward to trying to create as much normalcy as possible.”

But for the Williams, it’s hard to have a normal Christmas when their lives have been turned upside down.

((55:15/opening door/surprise: “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!))

Keith Thompson and the Williams family have mutual friends, and he heard they did not have a Christmas tree, so he surprised them with one.

Keith Thompson: “OK, so I brought you guys a Christmas tree for your Christmas.”

He also gave the kids presents and helped get them in the holiday spirit, but the family says getting back home to the Bahamas will be the best gift of all.

Crystal Williams: “I am grateful that my kids understand. You know, right now, we have to prioritize. We want to go back home, and it means us making some sacrifices, and next year, we will go big.”

Initially, about 4,000 Hurricane Dorian evacuees from the Bahamas were living in South Florida. Over time, that number has been dwindling as people head back home. As for the Williams family, they say they plan to head back to the Bahamas sometime next month.

FEEDING SOUTH FLORIDA:
feedingsouthflorida.org/

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