Ecumenical service, burial in Abaco for loved ones who lost their lives during Dorian

ABACO AFTER DORIAN – Several residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Dorian’s record level flooding in September 2019. An ecumenical service was held in Grand Bahama last year for those that died in the storm. Now, Abaco will hold its service Friday for their lost souls.

An Ecumenical Service and burial for loved ones who lost their lives during Hurricane Dorian will take place on Friday, May 22 at 10 a.m.

The service and burial are scheduled for the Public Cemetery, S.C. Bootle Highway, Central Pines. Religious leaders from the Abaco Christian Council and the wider Christian community are assisting with the service.

The service is being led by the Abaco Christian Council and its President, Pastor Edgburt Tinker. The Chief Celebrant is Pastor Tinker. He is assisted by Archdeacon Earl Hepburn and other Ministers of the gospel.

According to Archdeacon Keith Cartwright, there will be a graveside ecumenical service followed by a burial, taking into consideration the necessary COVID-19 protocols. These protocols will be strictly enforced. The service was previously postponed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Archdeacon Cartwright said the ceremony will be a time for all to “remember the impact Hurricane Dorian has had on our communities and as good Christian people pay our final respects.”

Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd is hopeful the service helps bring closure for the families who lost relatives.

“First of all, I’d like to say that the Anglican Diocese joins in expressing heartfelt condolences to the families of all who lost loved ones in the hurricane, and we also pray that this service of internment of remains will bring closure and peace to all who have lost loved ones,” he said.

“And finally, we pray for the souls of these departed individuals – for the repose of their souls – knowing that although they are now separated from us they are never separated from the Almighty God who first created them.”

Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder also offered his support and condolences to those still in grief.

“Every life no matter the circumstance of its conception or its demise is sacred,” he said.

“And so, as we bring to burial all those who perished as a result of Hurricane Dorian, we respect that sacredness of life and we bring them to burial in the most respectful, decent and honourable way.

“At the same time, we express our sincerest condolences to their relatives and friends whose pain and their losses we can never imagine. We join with all the surviving family and friends in commending the deceased to our loving God, who is the source and completion of all our lives.

“May the Lord grant them eternal rest in his presence.”

The 55 Hurricane Dorian victims in Abaco will be individually interred. Forensic DNA profiling analysis is ongoing. We have been advised that due to the COVID-19 pandemic laboratories have shifted priorities. 

Despite some delays within the operations of laboratories internationally, the Royal Bahamas Police Force has indicated that collaboration with a highly recognized laboratory, very skilled in dealing with DNA sampling, is proving good results. It is anticipated that receipt of some results is expected soon. The analysis of the samples proved very difficult and challenging. Hence, more specialized DNA analysis methods were sought, which impacted the ability to provide closure to families in a timelier fashion.

Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez advised that best practices have been used in number identification of each set of remains. The remains are numbered, the sealer caskets are numbered, and the graves will be numbered with weatherproof plates. This system will assist in providing certified death certificates. Those numbers match the DNA sampling of each decedent. When the forensic exercise is complete each family will be afforded the choice of family memorialization.

The Board of Directors, Executive Management and Staff of the DRA wish to extend our condolences to all who continue to mourn lost loved ones during Hurricane Dorian. We want to assure the residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama of our most persistent efforts to restore and reconstruct their communities.

Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019. It was the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas.

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