Saturday, 14 September 2019

Hurricane Dorian and The Bahamas


An aerial view of the destruction in Abaco

I live in The Bahamas - and if you've been following the news, you'll know that part of The Bahamas was badly hit by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month. 
For those who don't know, my day job is as a journalist here, so things have been hectic covering the build-up to the storm, the impact of the hurricane itself and the aftermath. 
Even now, many days after the storm, we don't know the full impact it had on the north-western islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco. 
I've been lucky. Where I live in New Providence, all we had was a bit of wind and a bit of flooding for those areas already prone to such. We didn't get hit hard. 
The same can't be said for Grand Bahama and Abaco. One of our reporters, Rashad Rolle, along with a photographer, Terrel W Carey Sr, spent the hurricane in Abaco, underneath the storm as it ripped the island apart. I can't tell you adequately what it was like to be on the island during that - but Rashad can. You can read that story here.
Both of those were out of contact for days. Communication with Grand Bahama and Abaco was difficult - the phone networks got blown out by the storm, and the rush to try and contact family and friends in its aftermath left the remainder overloaded and clogged with traffic. 
The short version of the storm's aftermath is this: Many are dead. Many are missing. The official death toll so far is 50, but all officials say that is expected to rise considerably. One former prime minister says he believes the death toll is in the hundreds



What happens next is the recovery - Grand Bahama and Abaco are just two of many islands in The Bahamas, so there's a real split between how the rest of the country fared and how those two did. As far as the rest is concerned, it's not quite business as usual, in the sense that people are still trying to support relief efforts and track down missing family and friends - 1,300 are missing at the last official count by government. But in terms of the country welcoming people back again to visit, business as usual is the best thing that can be done to help those affected. 
People evacuated from affected islands will need jobs, will need places to live, and the tourism trade will help them do that. 
So if you were considering coming to The Bahamas and have thought twice because of the hurricane? Don't cancel. Unless you were going to one of those two islands, your visit will be no different than it was before - and it's one of the best ways you can help people here too. 
For those who want to help in other ways, the Bahamian government has rounded up a number of approved ways of donating either goods or money that will help the relief effort. You can find that at bahamas.com/relief
There is also an excellent local group of citizens who have worked tirelessly to provide relief, and they have a GoFundMe that has already raised more than $1m. The link for that is here.
Along with friends over at Inklings Press, we hope to do something that will help a little too - of which more details when that's finalised. 
Ultimately, my family and I are fine - and that makes us the lucky ones. There are a lot of people who cannot say the same, and I urge you to donate anything you can spare to help out those left without homes or without members of their families. 
The Bahamas needs whatever help you can give. Thank you. 

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