October 17, 2019

‘An immense feeling of loss’ Webster alumnus loses family home to Hurricane Dorian

Dominic Newton said the Category 5 hurricane left his parents stranded in a hotel without running water or electricity.

Alumnus Dominic Newton’s father, Roland Newton, poses in front of his destroyed home in the Bahamas. Photo contributed by Dominic Newton.

Three days passed before Webster alumnus Dominic Newton heard from his parents after Hurricane Dorian destroyed their family home in Freeport, the Bahamas.

Newton said he feared the worst. 

“I was worried they were injured,” Newton said. “Or something like that.”

Newton’s parents evacuated their home to take shelter in a nearby hotel. As water levels rose, Newton’s parents and others in the hotel climbed floor after floor.

Newton, who now lives in Tampa, Fla., finally received a call from his father on Sept. 4, after communication links were restored.

“I come from a family that believes in Christ, so there were lots of thanks that they were okay and then there was a lot of praying,” Newton said. “Really, they had to be the tough ones in the conversation.”

Newton said his father had to break the news that Dorian destroyed their home.

In a video uploaded to Facebook, Newton’s father tours the aftermath of the Category 5 hurricane. Where a home once stood now lies a shell of exposed rafters, cinder blocks and broken glass.

“To describe it, I’d have to say it’s an immense feeling of loss,” Newton said.

 

Newton said while he only spent his high school years in this house, the home was full of sentimental things from his childhood. According to Newton, the only thing left untouched is a rack of clothes in his closet. Dorian destroyed or carried away everything else.

Dorian carried away Newton’s mother’s passport and documents, Newton said. She has to file to replace them.

Newton said he has already sent a package of clothing for his father, who lost everything except the clothes off his back.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dorian reached one-minute sustained winds of 185 mph. Additionally, the hurricane remained stationary over Grand Bahama, the island where Newton’s parents live, for nearly a day.

Webster University officials working in nearby Jacksonville, Fla. and Myrtle Beach, S.C., reported no damage to campus buildings. Classes were cancelled for two days in Jacksonville and three days in Myrtle Beach.

While Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, the eye of the storm turned east toward the Atlantic before reaching the U.S. mainland, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. No Webster campuses reported damages caused by Hurricane Dorian.

Robin Wiggs, office manager for the Webster University Charleston Metropolitan and Joint Base Campuses said classes were cancelled for three nights in Charleston. She said despite this, no damages were reported on campus.

“We haven’t had anything more than the typical limbs down in the yard,” Wiggs said.

Newton, like Wiggs, stayed safe on the east coast of the U.S.

He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in cybersecurity from St. Leo University in St. Leo, Fla. He graduated from Webster in 2018 with a bachelors of computer science with an emphasis in cybersecurity.

Newton said he urges people to seek out organizations that can help rebuild the Bahamas, like the Red Cross, and donate what they can.

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