On Orient Beach Chez Leandra has their bar open. Zellman scavenged wood from the debris and rebuilt. He has running water and electricity. Soon a container will be deposited on the slab of the former location. There will be food and working toilet. What a positive, can do, attitude in the face of so many losses.
We enjoyed a drink and listened to his stories. The things he and his wife found funny, you and I, our jaws would drop. Having not had to live with continued adversity has made me weak and him strong.
The aftermath of the storm was worse than the storm itself – is what we keep hearing. Without electricity and water, windows and doors, they survived. They shifted to sleep during the day and battling mosquitoes by night. Taking turns they fanned their young son in order to keep him comfortable. The French military was good to them as they received lobster and other food they could grill. Another nuisance during that time was a rat. The rat would wander into the open home searching for food. The fridge was empty and supplies stacked on top of it. At night they could hear the scratching of the rat attempting to climb and steal their stash. On a separate occasion, his wife heard a noise and shined a flashlight that revealed the rat dragging away her purse by its strap. She had some sweets within it for her son. She didn’t fight the cat-sized rat, she only watched in both horror and amusement. They would make small fires, burning bush or debris to try to deter the rodent’s visits.
She had to ration out her insulin medication. Together they would walk the beach in hopes of balancing out her blood sugar. Food rations tended to be high carbohydrates causing her to feel sluggish as she desperately craved vegetables. Luckily the military was able to help her get much needed medication.
He told us of a friend who had access to a generator after the storm. While he was in the shower he could hear it running when he noticed the power was out again. Maybe it had come unplugged. After his shower he went outside to inspect only to find a running weed-whacker where his generator had been. How clever of the thief to go to all that trouble to create a distraction!
Some of their stories were sad. All of their pets perished during the storm. They had been together in a secured shed on the property with food and water. The door did not hold and the dogs were sucked out into the wind. The family ended up huddled in the bathroom. The only found the one pet alongside the house.
His car had an air conditioner catapulted through the back window. Looking over at his neighbors totaled car he realized he had much to be thankful for. (He would have won the island car prize for using a shower curtain, a most creative option, to cover his missing window).
Looking in their faces you see what the SXM strong attitude is all about. So many losses and yet hope has sprung into action. This is how so many think and live their lives. I am humbled by the lessons they teach and realize I have so much more to learn.