Hurricane Dorian: Calgary man remains in Bahamas to help build stronger homes

WATCH: A Calgary man who survived Hurricane Dorian while he was in the Bahamas has decided to remain in the Caribbean country to help people living there rebuild. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, he's using a building system that has the ability to withstand hurricane-force winds.

A Calgary man says he’s determined to stay in the Bahamas to help residents rebuild — after surviving Hurricane Dorian himself.

Cordell DaSilva was in Freeport when Dorian hit on Sept. 1.

“That was my first hurricane and the most terrifying thing was the noise that the wind was making. It was rattling the patio doors and the windows and I thought they were going to get blown out,” said Cordell from a hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Sunday.

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He’s counting his blessings that, for two and a half days, he was in an Airbnb that was somewhat sheltered from the surging water.

“I didn’t have to deal with the fact you’re trapped in an attic and your wife can’t hang on anymore and she’s gone or you’ve lost your family your kids, babies. I mean, it’s horrifying here,” Cordell said.

The Bahamas have been a regular vacation spot for Cordell and Eva DaSilva. They were in the process of constructing two showhomes made from foam and steel, designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. One actually did, and they said the other would have if not for an equipment container smashing through it.

“The container just took out the smaller affordable home and spun around and headed apparently like a speed boat, our neighbour said, towards the ocean,” said Eva from her Calgary home on Sunday.

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Cordell said he was amazed to see the larger structure still standing after the storm passed.

“I fell to my knees because, to me, that was a miracle,” Cordell said.

Cordell managed to get on a cruise ship filled with evacuees headed for Florida on Saturday. He plans to buy more equipment to replace items destroyed in the storm and then return to the Bahamas on Tuesday to start building homes for people who have lost everything.

“My purpose for the rest of my life is to dedicate all my resources and everything I have as a human being to help these people rebuild their lives by creating shelter,” Cordell said.

Eva wants her husband to come home but she understands his need to help those who have become like family to them over the years.

“People in our neighbourhood, they have lost everything. Their homes are gone and there’s just nothing left. Now they have no water or power. It’s desperate,” Eva said.

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She said her heart breaks for the local construction workers who were building their two sustainable homes when the hurricane hit.

“They sustained their lives by sitting in the attic with a jar of peanut butter and a bottle of water for three days but had lost everything,” Eva said.

The couple is now fundraising to help build both single- and multi-family shelters throughout the Bahamas.

“Things that we take for granted in the world like hot water, electricity and the ability to have things at our fingertips — you don’t appreciate how much we have until you don’t have it,” Cordell said.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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