CAMBRIA (WSIL) — Freeman Johnson remembers the last hurricane to hit the Bahamas prior to Hurricane Dorian’s arrival late Sunday.
The police officer worked with emergency response teams for an entire week to help survivors of Hurricane Floyd.
Twenty years later, Johnson finds himself once again dealing with the aftermath of another strong hurricane hitting his home country. This time, he can only watch and wait from the sidelines – 1,117 miles away – as family and friends struggle to wade through the damage left behind by Dorian’s unforgiving waves.
"The main thing is for the responders to preserve their life so that they’re able to rescue the victims," Johnson said. "It’s just a waiting game."
The 49-year-old moved to Cambria in September 2015 to open the Caribbean Hut Food Trailer after spending 25 years as a detective in the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas.
Since Sunday, he’s been trying to call friends and family after hearing news that the Category 5 hurricane decimated much of the tourist-friendly country.
"It’s just been no communication," Johnson said. "(It’s) as if they just fell off the planet."
Johnson has been receiving videos on social media from friends and family in other parts of the Bahamas but is still waiting to contact family in the Abaco Islands directly.
Johnson knows how hard it is to send quick updates since storms destroyed many cell phone towers on the island. He remains optimistic that he’ll hear from family and friends soon.
"Maybe they had to leave their home and their shelter, and there’s no power to charge any type of devices," Johnson said.
Johnson says he’ll have a team of employees run his business while he continues to reach out to family members in the Bahamas.
"Waiting to hear that phone call saying, ‘Hey, we’re at a shelter, and everything is great,’" Johnson said. "Hoping the best for everybody."