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Hurricane Maria Before and After (Photo Story)

nature connection trauma & mental health Oct 17, 2017

Exactly one month ago, life changed overnight for the people on the small Caribbean island of The Commonwealth of Dominica, also known as The Nature Island. An island that once attracted nature lovers, adventure seekers, and wellness warriors, is no more.

The night of September 18th, 2017, Hurricane Maria evolved from a category 1 to a category 5 storm in less than 18 hours (one of the fastest strengthening on record), just before it made landfall on Dominica and completely devastated the island. It thrashed the country with extreme winds and rain and destroyed all in its path. At the time of landfall, sustained winds, which were reported to be 260 km/h, affected the entire population.

To see the documentary I created from my heart and spirit, our hurricane survival story, watch here. To read more about the aftermath, click here.

 

Our photo story...

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Galvanize roofing everywhere   Credits - El Latino Digital

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our village of Castle Bruce    Credits - Wavemaker Photography

 

 Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Dominica rainforest - Before and After Maria

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Mountain    Credits - Chad Ambo

 Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Trees were either derooted and fallen, broken or debarked

 

Hurricane Maria aftermath - Beyond Vitality The remains of our garden

 

Hurricane Maria aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our dog Goji, cats Maca and Chia, and goats Gigi and Baba survived the storm 

 

As you may know, we’re The S Family, the creators of Beyond Vitality Nature Camp, a small family-run eco lodge and homestead. Our home and eco lodge (also our lively hood) were destroyed by the storm. Myself (Sara), my husband Stephan, and our two small children, 5-year-old Skyla and 18-month-old Sadiel, survived the storm in our cob house, under a fallen wooden closet in cold water when our roof was forcefully ripped off and exposed us to the dangers of the hurricane.

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our cob bedroom (home)

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Home sweet home

 Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality The closet which we survived the hurricane under

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our bubble of protection

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Skyla's bed

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Roof gone

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Windows, door, and roof gone

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Looking for toys she can salvage

 

Have you ever been through an earthquake, a flood, a tornado, a war zone with the atmospheric pressure and noise of a plane taking off all at once? That is the best way some have described the experience. We were sitting in the dark not knowing if we would come out alive.

Have you ever been through an earthquake, a flood, a tornado, a war zone with the atmospheric pressure and noise of a plane taking off all at once? That is the best way some have described the experience. We were sitting in the dark not knowing if we would come out alive.

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality View of the valley

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality We haven't lost everything - grateful for precious life

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Salvaging for some dry clothing

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Big sister taking care of baby brother

 

All structures on our 6 acres of mountainous tropical rainforest land were wiped out or severely damaged, apart from the last remaining structure where our guests/friends were staying, but which filled up with mud from a landslide.

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our cob house (home)

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our dining area

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our bathroom area

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our veranda

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Where the kids used to play

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our open air cabin (homeschooling/music room)

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality The hammock hut (eco-lodge)

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Mud, mud, mud!

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Cashew cabin

 

Hurricane Maria aftermath - Beyond Vitality Cashew cabin is no more

 

Hurricane Maria aftermath - Beyond Vitality Material things

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Guava room

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Outdoor guest kitchenette

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Mango room

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality View of the valley

 

The remainder of the week, our holistic health and rewilding skills were put to the test when we had to shelter in our vehicle, collect rainwater, forage and treat some of our minor injuries with herbs from the landscape.

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our bed for the week

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Naptime

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Exhausted Skyla

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Our house for the week

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality The "play car"

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Snack time

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Rainwater collection and washing up

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Need some diapers for baby

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Foraging a bunch of bananas

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Lunchtime

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality The birds were hungry as well (fruit trees down)

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Drying clothing and bedding

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Mission "clear the road"

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Found the toothbrushes..."yay"

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Salvaged toys = happy boy

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Cuddles and milk

 

Myself and the kids were eventually airlifted and evacuated to another island. We are now in Sturgeon Falls living with the children’s grandparents (Ama and Ampa) and raising funds to help our country and community rebirth after the catastrophic storm took everything in its path.

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Is it here for us?

 Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Trinidad helicopter arrives - pack your bag and let's go!

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Smile!

 

Wait...two helicopters? Venezuela arrives

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Trek down to the helicopter through all the fallen trees and debris

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Almost there

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Medical check

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Medical check for the kiddies

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Wait, daddy isn't coming?! 

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality In we go

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Here we go - bye-bye home, bye-bye daddy. Where next? What now?

 

 

Stephan remained in Dominica due to "immigration complications", and to care for our cats, dog, and goats along with the remains of our home. He joined forces with some of our friends. Being separated was worse than the hurricane itself...but we kept smiling! 

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality The "apocalypse crew" a.k.a daddies

 

Our family will proceed with the beginning phase of our eco-village vision which was being manifested just before the storm hit. Stephan has no Canadian Visa to be able to reunite with us, so we plan to return to the island in November when we will access the situation and begin the rebuilding process with a climate-resilient and sustainability goal in mind. It will be a long road to recovery, but not an impossible one.

We have been touched by the incredible support we have received from people around the globe. 

We have thus far witnessed the worst of Mother Nature, but the best of Humanity.

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality Mother nature is fierce

 

Hurricane Maria aftermath - Beyond Vitality The aftermath

 

Hurricane Maria aftermath - Beyond Vitality Survivors

 

Dominica is down, but not out. We are a part of the Dominica strong that will return and help the island come back even stronger. Our family has a new perspective on what it means to be alive, and what it means to work in community. Living in the now and appreciating the small things has never been of greater importance.

 

Hurricane Maria aftermath - Beyond Vitality

 

Hurricane Maria Aftermath - Beyond Vitality

To see the documentary I created from my heart and spirit, our hurricane survival story, watch here. To read more about the aftermath, click here.

 

 

Looking to source quality foods, supplements, and nontoxic home products? This vetted list put together by Beyond Vitality can help!

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