With winds of over 185 miles per hour, Hurricane Dorian struck Elbow Cay, just east of Great Abaco Island’s Marsh Harbor, on September 1, 2019. Dorian is considered to be the worst natural disaster in the county’s recorded history and one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record. (NOAA)
Today I share a special interest story…
From April 11-14, 2021, my husband, Ed Lippisch, and Dr Daniel Velinsky, continued a tradition. They traveled to Marsh Harbor in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas, to go bonefishing with local guide and friend, Justin Sands.
I asked Ed and Dan if I could share what they saw and experienced, especially because I know that the Army Corps was preparing for this hurricane to stall not over the Bahamas, but over Lake Okeechobee…
Thank you Ed and Dan for sharing your impressions ~JTL
-Mangroves of the Marls around Marsh Harbor have not recovered from Category 5 Hurricane Dorian. Photo Dan Velinsky, April 12, 2021.-Pine forests around Marsh Harbor have also not recovered due to Hurricane Dorian. Dorian struck on September 1, 2019. These photos were taken 18 months later. Photo Dan Velinsky, April 12, 2021.
BY DAN VELINSKY
Ed and I flew to Marsh Harbor, Abaco, Bahamas last Monday to bone fish. It had been almost 2 years since our last visit due to Hurricane Dorian and Covid-19 issues. We had been in constant contact with our friend and multi generational Bahamian bonefish guide, Justin Sands. Ed had flown aid missions bringing water and necessary supplies directly after Dorian We had received photos from our friends and the news media. Nothing prepared us for the reality that slapped us in the face when we landed and ventured into the Marls to fish.
The ecological disaster was beyond belief. It has been 18 months since the storm. On land, there are no pine trees that are alive. On the water, there are no mangroves alive. I have been in florida since the 60s, thru hurricane Donna, Andrew, Francis, Jean and the rest. I have seen Miami, Stuart and the Bahamas after all the storms. Nothing prepared me for this. In areas of the direct path, nothing alive after almost 2 years. It will be generations for the pines to come back. Without a planting program, they may not. Im sure it will effect the small animals, but also the weather patterns. No greenery to hold the cool air, to clense the air.
On the water, no mangroves to act as nursery for all the fish, crabs, turtles and other sea life. As the roots decompose the balance to the ecosystem will change. I expected to see new growth after this amount of time, but it was minimal at best, and none in many areas. There is a program there, spearheaded by the fishing guides to plant mangrove shoots, which should help, but it will only be a drop in the bucket. It is horrible.
The devastation to the land and residents is also beyond description. It looks like a war zone after heavy bombing. We were so focused on finally getting to bone fish, and getting to the Bahamas and back with the Covid restrictions, I really didn’t think about the damage. What a reality check it has been.
Yes, we had fun with our friend Justin, caught over 25 fish, learned to cast into 20 mph wind. But my takeaway from this trip is the picture of the devastation in my mind. We were extremely lucky here in Stuart. The Bahamians were not. ~Dan Velinsky, April 17, 2021.
MARSH HARBOR, April 11, 2021. Photos, Ed Lippisch. AREA EAST OF MARSH HARBOR, April 12, 2021. -A beautiful bonefish. Their mangrove habitat was impacted.-Guide, Justin Sands and Ed.-Author of this blog post, Dan Velinsky.April 13, 2021. “The Marls” west of Marsh Harbor where the bonefish reside. April 14, 2021. Takeoff from Marsh Harbor heading west homebound. “Years past, these were healthy, mangrove islands, now destroyed.” Ed Lippisch.