Hurricanes are unpredictable at best. They gain strength over water and slow down over land and they can move at a snail’s pace, only to move faster than imaginable in the next hour. They are fickle and will stop and stall acting like a vacuum to all beneath its power. What happened to the Bahamas is unthinkable and had Dorian not turned to a Northeasterly path, Florida most likely would have looked the same. From the reports we are hearing on the ground, the photos cannot possibly tell the whole story. Just like New Orleans with Katrina as well as Puerto Rico with Maria, the damage is unbelievably overwhelming. The lives that are lost in Dorian’s wake are heartbreaking and the grief of the living who remain, those who have lost everything and those who were spared, are images that haunt.
Our first response is shock generally and then we want to do something, help in some tangible way because that is what we do for the most part in these cases, we help. How do we go about that assistance? Do we offer money, or goods, or laborers in the field? All are good options but not all are needed.
The UN issued a statement today that over 70,000 people are in need of life-saving assistance on Grand Bahama and Abaco Island. They have sent 8 tons of ready to eat meals into the region and aid distribution centers are being set up as early as today to distribute. It is a time crunch now to meet these needs as quickly as possible.
There are other organizations, The Bahamas Disaster Fund, which is set up by the Government that is accepting cash donations, as is the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, The National Association of the Bahamas, World Central Kitchen, The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Save the Children and Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps has a team in the field meeting with local agencies to coordinate response efforts. Also, the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief, Global Giving and YachtAid Global are collecting money but also supplies such as food, tarps, medicine and hygiene kits. Also, Water Mission is sending fresh water to the islands while Heart to Heart International has sent a medical unit. All of those are working with the Bahamian Government to provide needed relief and all of those things are readily available to donate to or volunteer with.
Since The Bahamas derive most of their income from tourism, it is encouraging to hear that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as well as Celebrity have sent boats filled with food and supplies to the area. Celebrity prepared over 10,000 meals in the past few days to feed the residents as well as aid workers. With that the cruise industry as well as the tourism industry has decided it most important to start service to the country as soon as possible. So you can even help by planning a trip and spending money with the locals. There is that lesson learned from the Puerto Rico when the tourists stop travelling there for a time. They need their livelihood to continue.
Also by coordinating efforts with the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Pastors and Churches can respond by taking teams down to the islands or volunteering with an established group to help in recovery and rebuilding. Another thing that helps is collecting things such as bandages, first aid kits, hygiene kits with toothbrushes and toothpaste, tarps, ropes, flashlights, batteries, solar powered chargers, diapers and blankets. These items can be given to an organization already in process of service, or plan to take them with you should your group put boots on the ground.
There is much to be done. Our response is key in this hour, not only in the Bahamas but in aiding our own citizens who were impacted by Dorian on the East Coast. What will we find?