• 48°

‘It literally got blown away’: Couple with Salisbury connections lose home in the Bahamas

By Mark Wineka

For 39 years, Ted and Ann Tankard often escaped to their beloved retreat in the Bahamas.

They called it Sugar Reach, and the Tankards purposely built the house small, in the fashion of much older homes in Hope Town and Man-o-War Cay, just so they wouldn’t create a huge footprint in the picturesque corner of the world.

They depended on kerosene, solar and propane for their energy needs, and they kept much of the property natural, enjoying their garden, fruit trees, rocky coastline — and the peace and quiet.

“It is a beautiful place, gorgeous,” says Ted Tankard, a retired oceanographer and brother of Susan Wear of Salisbury.

The young contractor who built Sugar Reach in 1980 made it strong, Tankard says, and the property had withstood many hurricanes through the years.

But it could not survive Category 5 Hurricane Dorian and its 20-mile swath of EF4 tornado wind speeds (166-200 mph). Sugar Reach is pretty much gone.

The Tankards were at their permanent residence in the Richmond section outside Houston when Dorian squashed the Bahamas.

They anxiously watched things unfold on the Weather Channel and checked postings on the Barometer Bob and Abaco Forum websites.

A friend in the Bahamas with a satellite telephone let them know Tuesday evening that their home is gone.

“It literally got blown away,” Tankard says of pictures he has seen. “It looks like tornado damage. That’s the best way to describe it.”

They found out through calls, emails and postings that various friends who stayed in the Abacos and rode out the storm are safe, but Tankard says they’re running out of water, food and diesel fuel for generators.

The Tankards used to live in Florida. They could get to their home on Sugar Loaf Cay in a hour, so they made the trip often. When Ted’s job took him to Houston, the trips became more infrequent — maybe once or twice a year. But since his retirement, the couple had been spending three or four months at a time on visits.

Susan Wear and her husband, Ralph, had visited in July.

The Sugar Reach house was in the area probably hardest hit by Hurricane Dorian. It’s in a spot not far from Marsh Harbour, Hope Town and Man-o-War Cay.

The Tankards are staying put in Houston for now. Ted says he asked someone on the island Friday if he traveled there would he be a help or hindrance. The friend told him he would just be one more mouth to feed.

“There’s really no point in going over now,” Tankard said. “There’s no infrastructure — no power, no water, no transportation.”

The Tankards have no plans to rebuild. Ted says they were in the process of putting the property up for sale before the hurricane.

“This is kind of a clean-break way to go,” he says, not ruling out that he and Ann will return in the years ahead as visitors who rent a place to stay.

Ted will make the trip to the Bahamas eventually to see what’s left of Sugar Reach and the Abaco area they know so well.

“It won’t be the same,” he says. “Personally, I don’t think the Bahamas will come back for a long, long time.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.



Racial bias ‘deeply entrenched’ in report critical of Apex Police Department


US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia


City council again dismisses idea of adding new member, focus now on recommendation to delay elections


‘Let’s make some money:’ Loosened restrictions praised by bar owners, baseball team

High School

Salisbury High bucks historical trend in dominant shutout of West Rowan


Garage declared total loss after Enochville fire


Cooper, N.C. prison officials agree to release 3,500 inmates


Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Rowan, six for the week


Blotter: Man brandishes AR-15, runs over motorcycle at Rockwell-area gas station


Salisbury man charged with exploitation of minor


Road rage incident results in assault charges


Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed


Faith Academy interviewing staff, preparing site for fall opening


Volunteers work around obstacles, alter procedures to offer free tax services to those in need


Education shoutouts


Retired Marine gets recognition for toy collection efforts


March issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available


Five get Dunbar School Heritage Scholarships


Education briefs: Salisbury Academy fourth-graders think big as inventors


Bakari Sellers keynote speaker at Livingstone College Founder’s Day program


Biden aims to distribute masks to millions in ‘equity’ push


Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot


GOP rallies solidly against Democrats’ virus relief package


FDA says single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson prevents severe COVID