BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Gretchen Caplinger and her husband Roger have had a home in the Bahamas for the last 10 years. Roger Caplinger is there now assessing the damage and aiding in recovery efforts after Hurricane Dorian.
“Worse than Katrina, things he’s never seen before. And to think, could anything be worse than Katrina?” That’s how Roger described the devastation he’s seeing.
The home they owned didn’t make it.
Over the course of the Caplingers’ time in the Bahamas, they’ve made many friends, including a couple named Tacuma and Shamell. The couple lost everything.
“Oh, they lost everything. He lost his job. When the second homeowners that he works for lose their homes, then he obviously has no one to work for. They lost their home. They lost their car. Grabbers where Shamell works- worked- it was devastated in the hurricane. So, she lost her job and she was nine-months pregnant as the hurricane was passing over Grand Bahama," Caplinger said.
Tacuma and Shamell were able to get off of the island with the help of friends and a private plane. Shamell successfully gave birth to the couple’s daughter Nylua in Jupiter, Florida, but, they can’t go home, at least, not yet.
Tacuma and Shamell are coming to live with the Caplingers in Bay St. Louis as soon as the baby is able to make the trip. They expect the family to arrive by next Friday.
Gretchen and her friend Elise Deano call the Coast home and know first and what it’s like to experience a deadly hurricane. That is why Deano didn’t hesitate to jump into action when Gretchen announced her Bahamian friends were coming to live with her.
“Gretchen had made the post about her family coming her,e and it just really hit a nerve with me. When Katrina hit, we lost everything. I had a 10-month-old baby, and I knew how horrible that felt and how alone that felt and to think that not only that these people are having to leave their country, they’re having to leave their family, having to leave everything they own-- everything. It’s very scary, and I could really empathize with how that mom felt and how that family felt," Deano said.
A freshly-made bed and baby supplies aplenty fill a tiny cottage behind Gretchen’s home in Bay St. Louis. Gretchen is ready to welcome her new house guests thanks to generous donations from the community, an effort lead by Elise.
“People are so wonderful, loving, caring, giving. I have received packages and packages through Elise because she’s not making all these packages just come to my house. She’s taken all that. Her assistant at her law office is helping with that. I can’t even begin to start to tell you the people that are helping," Caplinger said.
If you would like to donate to the family, there is an account at The People’s Bank in Bay St. Louis in Gretchen’s name and Nylua’s name. Any branch of The People’s Bank can accept donations.