When Hurricane Dorian blew through the Bahamas, it exposed one of the world’s great faultlines of in
Baker's Bay is an elite playground for millionaires. The Mudd is a neighborhood for the working poor. In Dorian's wake, the stark disparity compounds a tragedy. (The Washington Post)
BAKER’S BAY, The Bahamas — Here in one of the Bahamas’ most exclusive communities, the celebrity homeowners arrived in private jets. The cooks and cleaners and construction workers caught the ferry from the Mudd.
The Mudd, in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, was an informal settlement, built with abandoned construction materials on low-lying, flood-prone ground, ravaged periodically by fires. It was an open secret: The rich and famous here were served by — relied on — the residents of what the Bahamian government called “an unregulated community.”
For years, wealthy visitors to Baker’s Bay could ignore the precarious living conditions in the Mudd. But now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, that’s no longer possible. The shantytown has been destroyed. Many people were killed; the rest are homeless. The devastating human toll has exposed an economic dependency — there’s no one to repair the mansions.
The inequality between rich and poor, tourist and worker, was laid bare as the storm approached. When Dorian made landfall on Great Abaco Island as a Category 5 hurricane, the people of Baker’s Bay had cleared out. Its homeowners, almost all seasonal residents with primary homes in the United States or Europe, hired local workers to put up hurricane shutters and prepare for the storm while they tracked it from afar.
But the Mudd was full. Some residents wanted to stay to guard their homes and belongings. Others — many of them undocumented Haitians — fled to local churches for shelter. They said there was little opportunity to leave the island ahead of the storm.
Within hours, the entire community was flattened. Homes were blown to rubble. At least dozens were killed — the number climbs as more bodies are found.
In Baker’s Bay, sturdily built homes lost chunks of roof. Palm trees, evenly spaced along the main road, were toppled over. Debris smashed golf carts.
The Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club hired a 16-person private security team, equipped with helicopters and assault rifles, to protect the property.