A boat rested among the remains of a leveled house. The yachts were scattered throughout this community of 300 people – rebels, like discarded toys. Bookshelves full of books were still beside a crumbling wall with intact windows. The wall and roof of a typical living room were detached like a duct tape from a small house, revealing a sofa and a dining table.
The destruction in this once-idyllic enclave in the northern Bahamas cannot be expressed in words.
"Words cannot describe it," said Sherrie Roberts. "I don't wish on anyone … It's like an atomic bomb exploded."
Dorian, the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Bahamas, swept away entire neighborhoods when he landed Sunday in category 5. He remained merciless for days, repeatedly beating the same abused places as residents took refuge.
As of Thursday, the official death toll was 20 years, but the Bahamian authorities stated that the count should increase as the extent of the damage becomes clearer in the coming days.
Residents shake a litany of names of neighbors and friends who have not seen or heard. All communications took place on Sunday. Satellite phones have penetrated. The uncertainty creates another level of trauma. Residents transmit the news of their loved ones by word of mouth. Your mom is fine. Dad is fine These people were Medevaced.
At least 100 people have been rescued as small planes and helicopters skip the northern islands of the Bahamas as part of international efforts to reach the blocked survivors, feed the displaced and further assess the apocalyptic damage left by the Dorian hurricane.
At least 80 people were rescued and evacuated by the Abacus Thursday morning, a government official told CNN. Many were flown to the Odyssey Aviation center outside Nassau Airport, where a CNN team saw rescue and rescue helicopters and small planes take off and land.
Residents dodged bullets and screened windows with mattresses
Roberts was holding a bottle of water while he was with his nephew in a field of debris where his house once stood. She cried. He wanted his family in Tampa to know that they had survived.
"It's not just us, everyone hurts," he shouted. "We are not worse than anyone else. Everyone hurts and we thank God for life. We made each other."
Hardened by previous storms, the residents of the Abacus recall having dodged the bullets unleashed by the winds of the hurricane forces. Protect doors and windows with mattresses. Observing the consequences, it is difficult to imagine how it all survived.
A man described climbing on the kitchen cupboard in the middle of rising water, with only a few centimeters of space to breathe. He went downstairs at some point before his son pulled him up.
"I found the strength because I didn't want my son to see me die like this," he said.
Others resisted the storm by moving into their homes. When a window opened into a room, they rushed to another, where, again, the windows would burst – like a cruel joke.
After the hurricane, a starry sky provides temporary relief
The Abacus suffered massive destruction, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. About 60% of homes in the town of Marsh Harbor have been damaged.
The Abaco people are resourceful and self-sufficient. Many were born here. On Wednesday night, the stars filled the dark sky. The sense of relief for those who survived was dampened by the realization of absolute destruction. The roads they knew so well now seemed strange.
"The community came together," Roberts said. "Families have welcomed other families".
How will food and supplies arrive on the island? some residents asked. A baseball field was removed from the debris to make the landing of a helicopter carrying a CNN crew possible.
Where are the government representatives? others have asked to know. There are reports of looting. Military helicopters hovered in the night sky, illuminating the spotlight on destruction. Once again, a temporary sense of relief. But when will helicopters land with help?
Their lives and island paradise will never be the same, residents said.
Ray Sanchez of CNN contributed to this story.