A LaSalle, Ont., woman in the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas was among the people killed as Hurricane Dorian caused widespread devastation in the island nation this week.
Family members posted on social media groups this week hoping for news of Alishia Liolli and her family, who lived in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas.
LaSalle, with a population of about 30,000, is a southwestern Ontario town near Windsor.
According to social media, Liolli’s family — including her partner and children — are safe, but Liolli “died before help arrived,” said one post.
“Alishia is one of those people that you regard as an angel,” said David LaDuca, a friend of Liolli’s. “She was compassionate and loving, always reaching out to other people.”
Liolli graduated from Toronto’s Ryerson University, which is where she first got involved with the Every Child Counts school program in the Bahamas.
Every Child Counts (ECC), a school for students with special needs, posted confirmation of Liolli’s death on its Hurricane Dorian disaster relief Facebook page.
At ECC, Liolli ran the Starfish Enterprises program, which helps adults with disabilities contribute to society, providing basic academics, social skills and careers training.
‘You can’t say a bad word about her’
“Alishia was so taken by [ECC] that she applied to work there,” said LaDuca. While working for ECC, Liolli met her husband and they had one son together.
“She’s easygoing. She’s always willing to go with the flow, with a smile on her face,” said LaDuca. “Very caring and nurturing. All the students loved her. You can’t say a bad word about her.”
One longtime friend, Alysha Cardinale-Soderberg, met Liolli in Grade 4 and they were classmates through high school.
“The bond that we had was more than friends.”
She said that when she heard about Liolli’s death, she thought: “This feels like someone’s sick joke. This doesn’t feel real.
“We’re like sisters. We had that relationship where we could just walk into each other’s houses and hang out with the family … even if she wasn’t there.”
Cardinale-Soderberg was texting with Liolli the day the hurricane hit, but then Abaco lost power and Cardinale-Soderberg’s messages stopped going through.
“[Her mom and I] were just looking everywhere for information on her.”
Liolli was in Windsor in August and they went to a Detroit Tigers game with their children.
This feels like someone’s sick joke. This doesn’t feel real. – Alysha Cardinale-Soderberg
“The day before she left, I asked her to be my bridesmaid,” said Cardinale-Soderberg. “We hugged and said our goodbyes.”
According to Facebook, Liolli was the coach of the Special Olympics Bahamas 2017 bocce team.
Lilolli’s family has asked they be left alone to grieve.