BAHAMAS (CNN) – It’s been almost four months since Hurricane Dorian tore through the Bahamas, leaving parts of the island chain devastated.
In an area still ravaged by disaster volunteers clear the homes of those forced to leave everything behind.
Dana Tarno-Gerken, a volunteer with All Hands and Hearts Organization described the personal belongings left behind.
“We found a wedding dress and we saw pictures, and trophies,we had photo albums, a box of children’s toys,” said Tarno-Gerken, “And to have it just be completely ruined and completely taken out was a difficult day. And that’s the average house here. That’s the average house here.”
Months after the most powerful hurricane to ever strike the Bahamas parts of the island nation remain in ruins.
Recovery often depends on the kindness of strangers.
“I was actually one of the first volunteers on the ground,” explained Tarno-Gerken, “It was mixed emotions – very hard to process the amount of devastation that was here. So, um – sorry. That’s it, it’s just these people need a lot, and I have the time to give it, so..”
Tarno-Gerken felt compelled to help after watching Hurricane Dorian throttle the Bahamas on t-v in September.
She and a group of volunteers are now working to rebuild some of the worst-hit areas where the situation is still dire.
“We have no electricity, for the most part, in this area. The people are trying to make sure that they have a place just to stay that has no holes in the roof. We’ve had people come to us and ask us just for water,” said Tarno-Gerken.
On Great Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands, where the storm first made landfall, thousands lost their homes and entire communities swept away.
Earlier this month, the Prime Minister said 70 people had lost their lives and more were still missing.
Millions of dollars of aid has poured in but the storm left billions of dollars in damage.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work to be done here. That’s why we’re going to be here for two years…”
David Eisenbaum, the Director Of International Response with All Hands And Hearts Organization says in the long-term, volunteers must prioritize how to rebuild.
“Disasters take a very long time to recover from: years, not months,” explained Eisenbaum “It’s a bit of a misconception. And in places like this school, what we need is the manpower, to work alongside the Bahamians and help recover these communities.”
Amid devastating loss there are still signs of hope.
“These people are dealing with a lot of pain, many are emotionally distraught,” said Tarno-Gerken, “They have a very large need still. But they still laugh. They still smile. They still thank us. They still are glad to be here.”
Communities and volunteers banding together on a long road to recovery.