The remains of an Ontario woman who died in the Bahamas during hurricane Dorian will soon be returned home, her mother said.
Josie McDonagh said Alishia Liolli’s body was flown off the Abaco Islands to a funeral home in Nassau on Wednesday night and should be coming to Canada in the coming days.
“There’s nothing in this world that could explain what I’m experiencing right now,” McDonagh said through tears.
Liolli, 27, died after the full force of Dorian hit the Caribbean islands on Sept. 1. She had moved to the Bahamas in 2013 where she helped build and run a program for adults with autism.
McDonagh could not get in touch with her daughter or her son-in-law for days as she frantically posted for help on various websites. Liolli’s husband, Cialin Dany, was able to find someone with a working phone to deliver the devastating news to McDonagh.
“The first three days was hell for me,” McDonagh said.
During those days, McDonagh spent a lot of time dealing with Canadian Consulate officials in Nassau. She said they were also struggling to get information in the aftermath of the hurricane due to the devastation it wracked upon Abaco Islands.
The official death toll in the Bahamas stands at 50, but authorities expect that number to increase significantly.
“The embassy couldn’t reach out to anyone on the island,” McDonagh said. “There was no police force left on the island. Their hands were tied, our hands were tied.”
Then Dany stepped up, McDonagh said. He was running all over the island with the couple’s 17-month-old son trying to get the paperwork in order to bring his wife’s body to Canada.
“If it wasn’t for my son-in-law, she wouldn’t be coming home,” McDonagh said. “That’s seven days running around with my grandson. He ran out of diapers, he ran out of milk. I blame the Canadian government for not going in and having our own people there helping out.”
McDonagh said she does not blame the people at the Canadian consulate, who continue to work under difficult circumstances, but she hopes the federal government can learn from her daughter’s ordeal.
Hours before Dorian pounded the Bahamas, Liolli asked her friends and loved ones on social media to pray for her family and the small island she called home.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified; but the dogs, chickens, husband & children are inside and everything is batted down the best we could!” Liolli wrote on Aug. 31. “I love you all — please pray for our Bahamasland, especially our Abaco.”
On Wednesday, Dany wrote about Liolli on Facebook.
“We had so much dreams and so much plans,” he said. “My heart is aching, my head is exploding.”
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press