WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Marty Cash still has hope for his beloved Hope Town, located on the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, despite the hopeless condition it is in after suffering a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian as a Category 5 storm.
“My ancestors left here and settled Hope Town in 1783, so we’ve got some deep ties,” Cash said.
Cash lives in Wilmington but considers Hope Town his home. He owns both a house and business there and was there when Dorian hit.
“That’s a first for us. I mean we’ve all stayed there for the hurricanes. Nobody really goes anywhere because it’s a safe place. You stay inside, that’s all you need to do. And I stayed inside until I had to leave,” Cash said.
Cash said his home, and many around him are built to withstand hurricanes.
“This storm was like your worst tornado. The whole storm. I heard it coming. I leave my satellite dish up because I brag to everybody I watch TV during hurricanes. I got a generator, and air conditioning, we play games. The TV reception went quick, everything went dark, and I heard the train coming, it sounded like, the roaring. And that was unusual,” he said.
Before he knew it, he was under the house, laying in the dirt with his motorbike on his head, praying he would make it through to return home to his family.
Most of Cash’s house blew away and caught on fire from the generator.
“I stayed down there in the dirt for I can’t tell you how long because time didn’t ... it seemed like an eternity, you know. And all I could think about was where the storm was going because they kept saying it was going to turn, but go up the Carolina coast up here where all my family was,” Cash said.
Once the eye passed through, he said he grabbed his backpack, kept his helmet on, and started running to search for others.
“First of all you’re wondering who’s left, where is everybody. You didn’t know where you were, everything was changed. I had never seen so much destruction. After Floyd, we were directly responsible for building the island back again and this, I was like ‘oh my God, we’re not going to make it through this,’” he said.
Once the storm passed, the reality of the damage set in. Cash said at least 75 percent of the Island was destroyed with the rest being severely damaged.
Cash and others quickly regrouped and got to work, using heavy machinery to clear the streets, working for food, and staying in shelters set up by the Hope Town Volunteer Fire Department.
Cash stayed in the Bahamas for about a week after Dorian hit, until all of his equipment died.
He was then able to get on a rescue flight to Fort Lauderdale, and is currently in Wilmington recuperating. He plans on heading back next week.
“It’s going to go on for years and years. First of all, everything has been underplayed by the government. They’re saying 40 [deaths]. My pilots are telling me there’s hundreds out there in the mind groves, they’ve flown over. It’s just so sad,” Cash said of the Bohemian government.
For those looking to help, Cash recommends donating money instead of supplies.
“Right now, don’t send anything. We’re getting supplies that we don’t need because we’re evacuating people. There’s things of eggs sitting on the dock, there’s no refrigeration. So the best thing is cash. I recommend it to private firms,” he said.
Despite the devastation, Cash believes the people of Hope Town and the Abaco Islands will recover, but for now, they’re left with no choice but to leave.
“There’s hope, there’s a lot of hope and the Abaco people are so strong. They’ve been pulled apart and they have to leave because there’s nothing there now, nothing.”