A Memory of Maria: Days 2-4
Oh my God! Our much loved sons. Our Family. Our friends. They did not know that we had survived. The cellular phone tower above Wesley village could be seen in the distance, but it had been stripped of all equipment. There was no possibility of communicating with anyone. We were helpless, isolated, and completely cut off from everyone. We had to get through to them, somehow! The whole world had gone silent.
Mud and muck everywhere. Up and down the walls, and mud packed hard into the v joints between rafters. No water to mop or clean with, so mud and other debris had to be swept out. Everything wet through and already smelling of mold. At least it rained, and we put out every available container to collect it off our roof. Boiled rain water would sustain us for the next 3 months. It took days to completely dry the linens and clothing we had salvaged.
The whole world had gone silent.
We spent the balance of day 1 separating our stuff into two piles, the salvageable, and the destroyed. Impromptu clothes lines set up wherever possible were festooned with the remnants of our possessions, and the pile outside, slated for burning, grew and grew. My trophy painting of a leaping marlin was a mass of streaked paint merged into a unrecognizable mess. Mattresses were propped up against walls for drying.
Our stove worked after a period of drying, however the fridge worked intermittently, as we had to plug it in and unplug every half hour. We had done our shopping for the usual 2 weeks days before Maria struck, so it was necessary to keep the freezer going. All meats had to be consumed quickly or we would lose them. The fridge eventually expired.
Five hours of house cleanup had left us physically exhausted. We were alone. The enormity of the disaster began to sink in. Yet we had a roof over our heads, and were unharmed. We could see that both houses along the coast north of us were badly damaged, as Maria, stripping away all foliage, had opened up naked vistas for us. All around, our verdant forest had been stripped of their green, and broken branches were intertwined in a tangled mess everywhere.
The new dawn brought a determination to clear a path through the debris that covered our road. We had to dig ourselves out from this mess. Maryann and I pulled away branches for 3 days to clear a path. Removing every branch had to be well planned, as our fear was to puncture ourselves without access to medical care. Totally unused to hard manual labour, the task tested our endurance.
All around, our verdant forest had been stripped of their green, and broken branches were intertwined in a tangled mess everywhere.
We were just about finished road clearing through our cedar tree arbour, except for the trees felled across the road, when our second visitor arrived. Renoir, my mechanic and go to man, had arrived to check on us. Arrangements were made for him to return the next day (day 5) with a chain saw.
Renoir told us that we had 5 coconut trees across the road, as well as three large trees. He said he would cut up the trees, however I would have to hire someone to set the cut wood along the roadside. The prospect of reconnecting with the village brought a overwhelming sense of relief to us.
Next morning (day 5) we were awakened to the wonderful sound of a chainsaw working away. How sounds affected us for months. Day 3 had brought firstly the sound of helicopters and then the sight of them. Helicopters galore began to fill the airspace above us, given our proximity to the airport. We were not alone.
About Cyril Volney:
Cyril Volney is a retired banking professional and a proud Dominican. He is also a family man and comes from a lineage of distinguished individuals. Cyril now lives with his wife of 40+ years at their home in Wesley, Dominica.