In September 2019 Hurricane Dorian changed the landscape of Abaco forever. It quickly became evident that the island would never look the same.
Most of the capital and central hub, Marsh Harbour was completely wiped out. What wasn’t destroyed by the tidal wave was ruined by the tornadoes and strong winds. There was pretty much no viable business left in the town.
But the residents of Marsh Harbour are resilient and quickly set their minds on rebuilding, making the town better than ever.
Two and a half years later, the positive change is almost unbelievable. Progress and transformation can be seen every day with a short ride through the town. Construction can be witnessed around every corner. And each building that has rebuilt looks better than it did before.
Marsh Harbour’s two main grocery stores, Maxwell’s Supermarket and Abaco Groceries, quickly reopened after Dorian, expanding their inventory to offer more building and home supplies.
Shopping plazas are being built and rebuilt everywhere you turn. Abaco Shopping Plaza quickly made repairs and opened its doors for rentals. The old B&V Plaza was rebuilt and turned into a motel, Abaco Suites. Dove Plaza is being revamped. The Lowe’s Plaza has been redone and will soon be open with businesses. The old A&K Plaza is currently being rebuilt, along with a new plaza right next door. Resilience Square is a brand new plaza on the airport road. Flamingo Plaza and the old Bellvue building are also being repaired.
Resorts and Marinas are rebuilding in Marsh Harbour. Great Abaco Beach Resort has rebuilt and opened its doors to guests. Conch Inn Marina is making progress with construction and plans to reopen. Harbour View Marina is also making great strides to rebuild and reopen to full capacity.
Dine-in restaurants are coming back as well. Anglers Restaurant at Great Abaco Beach has reopened, as well as Colours by the Sea. A brand new restaurant, Cat 5 has opened in Resilience Square. Wally’s Boutique and Restaurant is making repairs to reopen soon. Snappas has plans to reopen when the new Conch Inn is completed. Jake’s Restaurant has plans to move into the Lowe’s Plaza.
North of Marsh Harbour there are lots of options for eating as well, including Calpyso Hills and Da Valley.
And in the South there are options such as Nancy’s, Pete’s Pub, and Slip Away.
There are also many options for takeouts all over the island.
Many hardware stores can be found on the mainland. Premiere Imports reopened its doors shortly after Dorian. Maxwell’s Supermarket added a hardware, which will eventually move to it’s own location. Abaco Hardware has been operating on a smaller scale and is making strides to rebuild. And Standard Hardware is also well on its way to cleaning up and rebuilding.
Boutiques and shops are also coming back. Tipsea Canvas has opened in the Insurance Management building, selling canvas bags, souvenirs, and much more. Abaco Ceramics is now under new management and can be found in the Abaco Shopping Plaza, selling ceramics, local spices, candles, and more.
Both Marsh Harbour based ferries, G&L and The Ferry at the Crossing, have reopened and are offering trips to the cays several times daily.
The Green Turtle Cay Ferry has also continued operation, and offers round trips several times daily to and from the cay.
Pinder’s Ferry in the North also has restarted its trips to and from Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Hotels, motels, and rentals are readily available. Great Abaco Beach Resort, Calypso Hills Hideaways, Island Breezes, Abaco Suites, and many other options, including Air B&B Rentals, are available all around the island.
Car rentals can be found all over the mainland, as well as boat rentals for those wishing to explore the water and shores.
Royal Bank and First Caribbean have reopened in Marsh Harbour; however they are both in new locations. Royal Bank has moved to the Abaco Shopping Plaza, and First Caribbean has relocated to the Abaco Neem building on the airport road. Commonwealth Bank reopened in their original, but revamped location.
Schools are opening and reopening over the island. All Hands and Hearts has done a ton of work to help the local schools rebuild and reopen.
Churches, businesses, stores, and houses all around the island are being repaired, rebuilt, opening, or relocating daily.
Rev, Batelco, Aliv, Water and Sewage, Bahamas Electricity, and all other utilities are reconstructing and making updates to their systems to offer better services to the island.
The Abaco cays have made huge strides at rebuilding over the last two years. And in some cases, even better than Marsh Harbour. With the great sense of community, and with the help of the second homeowners, many of cays are almost back to where they were pre-Dorian.
One of Abaco’s most famous cays, Hope Town, is booming. Shops, stores, and boutiques are open all around the cay. Hotels and marinas are thriving, including Hope Town Inn and Marina and Lighthouse Marina. Many restaurants are back in full swing, including Abaco Inn, Hope Town Inn and Marina, Capt’n Jacks, On Da Beach, FireFly, and several mom and pop take outs. The Hope Town Museum is also continuing to rebuild. Hope Town has proven its resilience and that it will forever be known as “Hollywood.”
Just north of Hope Town, Man-O-War is also making headway to rebuild. The Man-O-War Museum and Coffee Shop has reopened, offering coffee, treats, and a full history of the cay. And there are many local shops and boutiques that have reopened as well. However with no restaurants open at the moment, there are quite a few locals who cook and sell meals daily.
Guana Cay has proven its strength in the rebuilding process. As one of the last cays to regain electricity, the locals have incredibly continued to rebuild. Grabber’s Restaurant is open in full swing, and Orchid Bay Marina is open at a limited capacity. Baker’s Bay, a private resort and community to the north of the cay, has also reopened and continues to progress in rebuilding.
Green Turtle Cay has also made incredible advances at rebuilding and bouncing back to what it was pre-Doran. There are tons of restaurants to choose from on the cay, including Harvey’s, Pineapples, Green Turtle Cay Club, Sundowners, Bluff House, and the Wrecking Tree, which should be opened in early 2022. There are now two coffee houses on the cay, Nick’s Café and Calypso Coffeehouse. The Monument Garden has been reconstructed, and the local museums should be up and running soon, offering information on the history of the cay. Marinas have reopened, including Bluff House and Green Turtle Club. And the famous New Plymoth Inn is being restored and reconstructed by its new owners. The locals are excited to see the new opportunities that are heading their way.
A marina is also open in Spanish Cay, which is a small cay in the north.
The scenery and foliage is bouncing back to its original, beautiful landscape, with greenery and flowers blooming and flourishing all over.
With great help from IDEA Relief Bahamas, the waters are becoming cleaner than ever. The organization has been vigorously cleaning up and removing debris left on the ocean floor from Dorian.
There is so much positive change happening daily that it is almost impossible to keep up with it all.
The landscape of Abaco may be changing every day and may never look the same, but one thing is for sure, it will look better than it did before Hurricane Dorian.