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Bahamian family visits P.E.I. after home destroyed by Dorian, considers a new kind of Island life

Terran, left, Shoine, and Terrance Strachan in Summerside on Thursday, Sept. 19. The family sought refuge in Summerside after their home was destroyed in Abaco, the Bahamas by hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1.
Terran, left, Shoine, and Terrance Strachan in Summerside on Thursday, Sept. 19. The family sought refuge in Summerside after their home was destroyed in Abaco, the Bahamas by hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1. - Millicent McKay
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

It was the cracking sound that alerted Terrance Strachan.

The storm-proof glass doors on the home he shared with his wife Shoine and son Terran (22) had begun to crack.

"Common Terran, let's put the couch here," Terrance instructed his son as the pair created a barricade against the splitting glass. 

It was nearly noon on Sept. 1, and the devastation from hurricane Dorian had only begun. 

Before Dorian hit their home in the Bahamas, the Strachans were still in the process of moving into their blue house, which they hadn't been in for a year yet. Submitted photo/Shoine Strachan
Before Dorian hit their home in the Bahamas, the Strachans were still in the process of moving into their blue house, which they hadn't been in for a year yet. Submitted photo/Shoine Strachan

"It was like before every other hurricane. Busy. People were getting the supplies they needed to batten down their homes, get some food and prepare for a storm," said Terrance, who was sitting on a couch in Summerside City Hall Thursday with Terran and Shoine. 

Natives of Nassau, the Bahamas, Terrance, a bishop with the Lifegate Christian Ministries International, Terran, Shoine, and his other son, Tevon, were ready to wait out Dorian on the islands of Abaco. 

Following the storm, Terrance, Shoine and Terran came to Summerside, leaning on friends here to help them regroup. 

Life on their Island isn't too fast or slow, explained Shoine, a property manager for vacation homeowners. 

With one major centre for residents in the surrounding communities to go to for supplies, the city of Marsh Harbour was bustling before hurricane Dorian's arrival. 

"We battened down and then stayed glued to the TV," said Terrance. 

Early hours

It wasn't long after Dorian hit Abaco that the Strachans were trying to keep up with the damage.

"I had just finished making breakfast when I saw Terran's boat swaying back and forth from the trailer it was on over on our other son's property," said Shoine. 

Terran runs a sight-seeing boating operation in Abaco, which, like P.E.I., has a strong tourism industry. 

Terran and his father went out into the wind and chocked the wheels, hoping that would stop it from going anywhere. 

At 11:30 a.m. it was time for lunch.

"Terran come here. Am I seeing things? Is this wall, moving?" Terrance asked his son. 

"Daddy that wall is moving," Terran confirmed. The pair describing it as if their house was breathing with the wall moving back and forth about five inches. 

"Shoine, leave lunch alone, let's all get into one room," Terrance called out. The family piled into a bedroom. 

That's when it happened. Their 'storm-proof' doors caved in. 

"I knew we had to get out of this house. It wasn't safe," said Terrance reflecting on the at least 270 kilometres per hour winds. 

"Daddy, we ain't going to make it," Terran said, before running with his parents to the shed near the house. 

Moving fast 

It was maybe 10 minutes before the winds blew open the doors to the shed. 

Shoine and Terran had climbed onto a countertop that was in the structure. Terrance was on a ladder trying to secure the doors.

"Honey, you should be up here with us," she yelled to Terrance. 


Seconds later he had been knocked over by the wind, holding onto the structure for dear life.

"It was only my wedding ring that kept me there," he said.  

Terrance pulled off the gold band to show a healing cut where the band and wood had dug into his hand. 

But Terrance couldn't hold on and he fell to the ground. Now, about five-feet away from one of the family's cars, a Honda Fit, he knew that was now the safest place the family could go.

"Dad went to the car, opened the back door and hopped in. I grabbed mom and we ran for it," said Terran. 

Dorian was now hitting the island with winds over 290 km/hour.

Rocks and debris pelted the family's other cars and structures, but the falling wood had created a shield for the Honda Fit, protecting the family. 

"About 10 to 15 minutes later... it all came tumbling down," said Shoine with a shake of her head. 

Eye of the storm 

Waters flooded the Strachans' property after a storm surge came almost 10 kilometres inland. The family, piled into their Honda Fit, felt lucky they weren't swept away. 

"We made it for another 30 to 45 minutes. That's when everything settled down," said Terrance. 

During a hurricane, when the weather settles, it's a signal that the eye of the storm is passing overhead.

But the winds had decimated their home, leaving few options to seek out safety.

"I was sure the eye of the storm was right above us," said Terrance.

The family ran for a house on a hill about 50 yards away. 

"By the time we got there, half of the roof was already gone," Shoine recalled. 

They clambered into a room the home-owners had barricaded their dogs in and decided that's where they'd wait out the storm. 

"It was just us and the dogs," Shoine said with a chuckle. 

The family stayed in that room from around 1 p.m. Sunday until about 12:30 a.m. Monday. 

"We finally settled in eventually, in about three to four inches of water, and just hugged each other to stay warm," Terrance said. 

Utter devastation

The Strachans are one of the thousands that have been left reeling from hurricane Dorian. Dorian destroyed the family's home in the Bahamas, reducing it to rubble on starting on Saturday, Sept. 1. Submitted photo/Shoine Strachan
The Strachans are one of the thousands that have been left reeling from hurricane Dorian. Dorian destroyed the family's home in the Bahamas, reducing it to rubble on starting on Saturday, Sept. 1. Submitted photo/Shoine Strachan

On Monday, the Strachans made their way back to their Honda. 

"We needed to get someplace with heat. So we went back to the car, laid out the seats and tried to get some rest," Terrance said. 

By 6:30 a.m. the family was looking to find a way off the property and into Marsh Harbour for provisions. 

Two-and-a-half hours later, after constructing a ramp for their car to go over, the family was on the road. 

They stayed at a neighbours cottage for a few days before heading to Marsh Harbour. 

When they got to the city, they were met with devastation. 

By this point, now Thursday, they hadn't eaten much since breakfast Sunday. 

"It was mayhem. People looked like they were in a daze, almost like zombies," said Terran. 

Eventually, the family made its way to the local airport. They were among the fortunate ones able to get seats on a flight to Nassau.

"At this point, our family still didn't know if we were alive," Shoine said. 

The feeling of reuniting with family was incredible the threesome said.  But with all of the recovery and reconstruction underway back home, the Strachans wanted a place to go to get some space, a clear mind and re-group. 

To P.E.I. 

Terran and Tevon (28), both attended courses at the Holland College Marine Training Centre in Summerside in 2015 and 2009, respectively. While there, the boys bonded with a locals Kevin Stetson and his family. 

"I called Kevin and told him we were thinking of coming to Canada. After I  told him we'd be leaving in a couple of days, he said to tell him when we'd be here and then picked us up at the airport at 1:30 a.m., Saturday, (Sept. 14)." 

By this time, P.E.I. had its own repair work to do after Dorian, reduced to a tropical storm, hit the Prince Edward Island the week before. 

That was the first night, since Dorian destroyed their house, that they felt at home.

"It was pretty strong to have hit us and then come all this way to hit you guys," said Terran. 

Terrance and Shoine said they wished their first trip to P.E.I. was under better circumstances. 

"But we've felt so welcome. We feel as if we're home," Shoine said. 

Now, several days later, Shoine and Terrance have started the journey back home to Abaco, while Terran remains on the P.E.I. 

On Thursday, before they left, Shoine and Terrance met with Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart and representatives from P.E.I. Connectors and P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada. 

"We've started to see ourselves here. It feels just like home. So we're hoping to start the process of coming here, permanently," said Terrance. 

For now, Shoine and Terrance will try to rebuild their Lifegate church community and take the steps to come to Canada, Summerside more specifically, permanently. They hope to return before the end of the year. 


Fast facts 
Dorian and the Bahamas 
– Official reports say 50 people have died
– 1,300 people are still missing 
– The strongest storm to hit the Bahamas 
– Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on Sept. 1 
– More than 70,000 people were left homeless on Grand Bahamas and the Abaco Islands
– An estimated 90 per cent of housing and infrastructure has been destroyed on the Abaco Islands
– Many are still living without electricity
Source: mercycorps.org 


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