Hurt and anger still strong a decade later
A decade after Hurricane Fabian devastated the Island, the families of those killed on the Causeway are still feeling the loss.
Monica Pacheco, whose husband Manuel died in the storm, said yesterday: “It was hell. It was hell to get a phone call from a friend telling you that your husband has gone overboard.
“You let the words fly that shouldn't fly. I try not to think about it. I try to keep it out of my mind, but it happens.”
Mr Pacheco, 23, was on his way home after securing his boat in St David's when his car stalled on the Causeway. He was never seen from again.
Mrs Pacheco said her husband joked with a friend before being washed overboard, telling him: “I have three water pumps in my boat and none in my car.”
“He was a fun, outgoing person,” Mrs Pacheco said. “He loved to go out, and he just enjoyed being here.”
For Mrs Pacheco, the storm dealt a double blow. Along with taking the life of her husband, the storm also destroyed her family home.
Ten years later, she said she is still angry about the lack of help from Government in her family's hour of need.
“That day I lost my husband, house and home, and I'm still waiting for Government to call me and tell me they have a house for me to move in to,” she said. “And that's ten years. They said I was supposed to be on the top of the list.
“It's a slap in the face. Government has done nothing from the day it happened until now. If it wasn't for my father, I would be living in my car because I can't afford to live on my own.”
She also criticised former Premier Alex Scott for turning down an offer of assistance in the wake of the storm, but said she is grateful for the support from the public and the September 5 Foundation.
Irma Dill, who lost her sister Gladys Saunders during the storm, says she still thinks about the hurricane a decade later.
“I think back a lot, especially when we get bad weather,” Mrs Dill said. “I always think about that. I never went across the Causeway after it went down. I just stayed across the bridge until they fixed it.”
Mrs Saunders, a 48-year old police station duty officer, was being given a ride across the Causeway by PC Stephen Symons, 37, and PC Nicole O'Connor, 29, but none made it over the bridge.
Ms Dill said: “It was very tense because everyone wanted to know what was going on. When they said the car went overboard, everyone was wondering if they were going to find her, or who they were going to find, because there were four of them.”
She said her sister dedicated herself to helping others, adding: “If you had a problem, she was always there. She would get off her job and come to you and rescue you if she had to. She was right there for everybody.”
Younger brother Chaplain Kevin Santucci said Mrs Saunders's desire to give back to the community fuelled her decision to work with the police service.
“I think she always had a spirit of giving and, more so than anything else, giving back to the community,” he said. “She has always been involved in helping people, even back when she was working at the Hamilton Princess, she was always there for the people so I think it was a natural step for her.”
He said the time at Grotto Bay, waiting for updates, was difficult for all the families, but there was also a sense of unity.
“That was the other side that I sensed. During that time it just seemed that everyone on the Island just came together,” he said. “No matter what they were thinking or doing, even if they were at odds with each other, this gigantic storm pulled everyone together.”
He offered high praise to the Bermuda Police Service, saying: “The camaraderie of the officers is impressive. The way they keep in contact with the families is just awesome. They ought to be commended for that unity, love and respect.”