About the only thing Hurricane Dorian didn’t destroy or damage was Quentin Hall’s spirit.
“All I can say is I’m alive and well,” the Bahamas native said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “You know me, I’m a real upbeat person.”
And, as Gonzaga basketball fans will recall, a fearless, fun-loving 5-foot-8 guard on the 1999 Zags that made it to the Elite Eight. But Hall, wife Vanessa and their three young boys, having survived Dorian’s wrath, now face the monumental task of trying to put their home and everyday lives back together.
The Halls rode out the Category 5 hurricane earlier this month in their one-story house on Grand Bahama Island. They’ve experienced several hurricanes but nothing like Dorian’s sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, 3 feet of rain and a 20-foot storm surge that leveled countless businesses and neighborhoods.
The slow-moving hurricane trapped them in their home for nearly 72 hours. First came the high winds, followed by heavy rains that sent knee-high water into their home. A second surge produced a wall of water that left the kids standing on the dining room table and Quentin and Vanessa standing on the couch.
“It was two days of hell,” Vanessa said. “At first it was just rough wind, but then Dorian decided to hover over us. The first time it wasn’t bad, wasn’t as scary. I’m 5-6 and the second time, the water came up to my waist and it just kept coming.”
The Halls considered leaving to find a safer place to shelter, but opted to stay in the house. Vanessa believes the decision probably saved their lives. She said the Coast Guard tried to rescue the family but wasn’t able to due to the high winds and rivers of water.
“With the winds and water and the current, even though I felt confident holding my 4-year-old son and I wasn’t going to let him go, we stayed,” Quentin said. “And it all worked out for the best.”
Hall’s relatives are accounted for, but several friends are among the 2,500 estimated missing.
Hall’s sister and her boyfriend, staying at Hall’s parents’ house, were forced to evacuate when water “was up by her neck,” Quentin said. After a few agonizing days without contact, Quentin received word that his sister was fine but the house, much like Quentin’s, is in pretty bad shape. Quentin’s parents were in Ohio visiting his brother during the hurricane.
The Halls’ house is still standing but suffered extensive damage, including to a portion of the roof and ceiling. It rained Tuesday night and water seeped inside through the faulty roof.
Nearly everything inside not made of wood was ruined. Hall is still assessing the structure’s stability and if the electrical wiring and walls will need to be replaced.
“There’s work on top of work here,” said Quentin, who got the car started earlier this week but worries about possible damage from salt water. “We pretty much lost everything inside the house.”
“We’re just not going into the back section, which has the damage,” Vanessa said. “Every day I scrub it down so mold can’t grow. We have no power. There’s a trickle of water, but they’ve told us not to use it.”
Food and clean water is scarce, but Quentin said friends have been helpful with canned goods and other items. Schools remain closed so the boys play near the house while Quentin, a junior high teacher, tries to round up supplies and find an electrician to check on the wiring in the house.
“You’re in long lines to get a case of water and, with a family of five, you’re rationing every little thing,” said Vanessa, who works at a pharmacy. “My youngest keeps asking why the water took away his computer and the couch. How do you explain that to a 4-year-old?”
Quentin anticipates staying in the Bahamas, where he settled after playing seven years professionally in Europe, but Dorian’s ferocity has forced him to consider other options. There’s a possibility of another tropical storm hitting the Bahamas in the next four to five days.
“We’re in a hurricane area, that’s what scares me more than anything,” said Hall, who played two years at North Idaho College before transferring to Gonzaga. “Recovering and rebuilding, it can be done, but having a future is something else. What’s on my mind more than anything is my little boys. I don’t plan to leave. I love being here and being home.”
He’s heard from numerous former teammates and coaches, including Leon Rice and Dan Monson. Wes Oliver, one of Hall’s roommates at Gonzaga, has organized a GoFundMe account with a $10,000 goal. As of Thursday afternoon, nearly $5,000 had been raised.
Hall hasn’t lost his sense of humor, despite the challenging circumstances.
“If I made it out of that storm,” he said with a laugh, “I can make it through this (the aftermath).”
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