Brent Lowe, who is blind, braved the floodwaters in the Bahamas to carry his 24-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk, to safety. Lowe, a resident of Abaco, was caught in the midst of a Category 5 hurricane, which blew the roof off and flooded his home with the water rising up to his chin.
"I was terrified," Lowe told CNN. "I didn't realize the water was that deep. I was thinking maybe knee-deep. It wasn't until I stepped off and I realized, oh, I wonder if it gets deeper because that means I have to swim with him, you know what I mean. But thankfully it didn't get over my head."
The Bahamas has been devastated by Hurricane Dorian, with winds pummeling the islands and leaving 43 people and counting dead. Lowe, who was evacuated to Nassau, said he was hoping for the best at home with his son, his sister-in-law, other relatives and some neighbors while the storm battered Abaco. When the roof came off his house, he sprang into action.
"At that time, it was raining and raining hard," he said. "So, I picked him up, threw him on my shoulder and when I stepped off my porch, my front porch, the water was chin high, up to my chin. ... We all had to walk out into the water and into the wind to the neighbor's house."
Lowe carried his son for at least a five-minutes, though the walk felt much longer. They finally reached the neighbor's house, where they stayed until they could be evacuated to a shelter, he told the New York Times. After arriving in Nassau, Lowe has been receiving dialysis treatment, which he needs to survive. Meanwhile, his son is being taken care of by his sister-in-law, he said.
"He is with her right now," Lowe said. "I really hope to get in contact with him because I really miss him. I want to see him. You know, I'm 49 years old. My son is 24 years old. I've been disabled for 11 years. And all the time I've never asked anybody for anything. I just went about me and my family and took care of my family, me and my kids with the help of my ex-wife and we did it."
What will happen next to Lowe and his family is anyone’s guess. Their residence in Abaco has been destroyed, therefore, they won’t be able to return for a while. At home, Lowe had a live-in caretaker who stayed with his son while he went to dialysis treatment. Now, it will be difficult to care for his son and find temporary shelter while he continues treatment. "We need a place to go," Lowe said. "I don't know exactly what we are going to do. We need help."
As of yesterday, 70,000 people in the Bahamas had been left homeless. Volunteers continue to search with dogs for people under the rubble in neighborhoods leveled by Hurricane Dorian, while global relief agencies are attempting to provide food and shelter. Hundreds of people are still missing; therefore, the death toll is expected to rise.
Dorian, the strongest hurricane ever to hit the islands, lingered over the archipelago for days. The Bahamian financial services ministry said Friday that the situation has devolved into a "humanitarian crisis." The country is still struggling to move evacuees to safety, including on a cruise ship that arrived yesterday in Palm Beach, Florida. Meanwhile, search and rescue personnel has arrived with body bags and coolers to store human remains as they surface, said Joy Jibrilu, director-general of the country's tourism and aviation ministry.