Since August 24, 2019, Tropical Storm Dorian grew in strength into a major Category 5 hurricane before making its way to The Bahamas. Dorian made landfall on the Abaco Islands and then stalled over Grand Bahama with up to 180 mph winds. When it hit Grand Bahama late Sunday, September 1, it was a Category 5 before being downgraded September 2 to a Category 4.
The New York Times reports that as many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed and that flooding on Abaco Islands is believed to have contaminated wells with saltwater. However, Bahamian officials have said it’s too early to fully assess the damage because the wind and rain were making it difficult to reach many of the smaller islands. Videos from residents and those on Grand Bahama, gathered by the Sun Sentinel, show the airport underwater and severe flooding in homes and the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport.
At publication, the latest advisory shows Hurricane Dorian downgraded to a Category 2 storm, still with 110 mph winds, but its core is moving away from The Bahamas at five miles an hour. The National Hurricane Center notes that even with the decrease in wind speed, the combined wind, storm surge, and floods are the same or worse because the hurricane has grown even larger.
Grand Bahama is set to endure up to 130 mph wind gusts, storm surges as much as 15 feet above normal tide levels, and devasting flooding from up to 30 inches of rain on Tuesday, September 3. Beginning late Tuesday night, the hurricane is forecasted to move close to Florida’s east coast through the evening of September 4. Then it is predicted to continue toward the Georgia and South Carolina coasts.
While Hurricane Dorian is slowly moving away from The Bahamas, fundraising and aid efforts have already begun. M/Y Loon has teamed up with YachtAid Global and will be one of the first vessels in the Abacos providing much needed support, a post on the vessel’s Instagram stated. She and her crew are in Nassau, where they only dealt with moderate winds and lots of rain. “We are stocking up Loon with as many supplies as we can carry and will be departing Nassau as soon as it is safe to do so,” the post also states. They plan to share footage from the Abacos over the next few weeks when they arrive.
Capt. Gary Dezarn, who is also a yacht broker with Atlantic Yacht and Ship, created a GoFundMe for building materials and supplies for the trip to the Abaco Islands he is planning on September 5 on his 105-foot yacht. He is also looking for three crewmembers to help the people of the Abacos. Bosun João Franco of M/Y Sirocco is also working on gathering supplies and funds for the people of The Bahamas.
Michelle LaCombe posted on Facebook that M/Y Short Story will be making a trip to Hope Town, Bahamas, with freezers of food, clothes, and more. They are accepting donations in Fort Lauderdale and Dania Beach (addresses in the comments of the post). Skipper Gentry, who has been in the Bahamas since 2011, sought shelter in Nassau and is fundraising for supplies to load up his 60-foot boat to take to the Abacos.
Nautical Ventures has established a Bahamas Relief Effort with a GoFundMe campaign and is also a drop off point where South Florida residents can donate much-needed canned goods and supplies. Funds will provide emergency supplies and relief to people affected by the hurricane, and several of Nautical Ventures' clients will take the goods to the islands aboard their yachts.
The International Seakeepers Society will be traveling by boat to deliver supplies to Grand Bahama and the Abacos. They are collecting items from water and canned goods to small generators and tarps. For more info on how to donate, contact Ariel Madison and Tony Gilbert at email@example.com or 786-924-6209.
If you’re fundraising or working on getting aid to the affected areas, let us know how people can help and we will continue to add to our list.
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Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
A week after Hurricane Dorian hit Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, relief efforts to assist residents and the areas affected have been in full swing. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said that six shelters on the Bahamian island of New Providence are packed with 1,675 people who were evacuated from Abaco and the Grand Bahama islands, according to the New York Times.
The Bahamian government says at least 50 people died and that the death toll is expected to rise. It also estimated that up to 10,000 people from the Abaco islands alone will need food, water, and temporary housing. Tens of thousands of Bahamians are staying in shelters in Nassau, and about 17 percent were left homeless after the hurricane, Local 10 News reports.
With the assistance of YachtAid Global, yachts have been working hard in providing relief to the area with Operation Topaz. M/Y Loon brought supplies to the Abacos, including Marsh Harbour, Elbow Cay, and Green Turtle Cay. Crew also cleared debris from roads and visited clinics and handed out candy to children to lift their spirits. M/Y Laurel dropped off about 30 tons of aid, such as food and medical kits, in Freeport at the Bradford Marine facility and delivered 60 dogs from North Bahamas to Florida, where Big Dog Ranch Rescue will care for them. YAG said in a Facebook post that many dog owners are still missing or had to be rescued or evacuated and were unable to take care of their pets.
While the hurricane affected the area, The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands and people are urged to continue visiting the area. The Bahamas Weekly published a list of marinas that are open, and Ellison Thompson, deputy director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, told the Orlando Sentinel they’re working to make sure people know that top destinations, such as Nassau, the Exumas, and Bimini are fine. He explained that they need visitors to keep coming so the taxes can be used to aid in the reconstruction of the two islands.