The massive, slow-moving storm has finally moved on, but for people living the Bahamas the devastation remains.
Support organizations like The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are now mobilizing in an effort to provide support services to those who endured the wrath of Hurricane Dorian.
Representatives from those organizations say help from residents in communities like Niagara County is needed to help all those in need.
Salvation Army relief coordinators say Grand Bahama, along with Abaco Island to the east, sustained the most severe flooding and structural damage.
“From what we’ve seen so far, the damage from Dorian seems to be the most severe,” said Major Clarence Ingram, Salvation Army Divisional Commander in the Bahamas. “Compounding the transport and logistics difficulties, the airports are closed because of the effects of the storm."
The Salvation Army also employed the services of its disaster staff and volunteers who are stationed on the ground in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Salvation Army officials said the organization will be providing food, clothing, tarpaulins, clean-up kits and emotional and spiritual care to those who are being impacted by the storm.
“We are part of the solution,” says Mike Patterson, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army of the Carolinas. “One organization can’t do it all but serving together, we can use our strengths to help people when tragedy strikes.”
The American Red Cross is also providing support to storm victims. The organization announced this week that it has committed an initial $2 million to assist in meeting the immediate needs of those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, while continuing to provide shelter and food to thousands of people in the United States.
Red Cross officials said the Bahamas. Abaco and Grand Bahama were particularly hard hit and initial aerial assessments show widespread devastation to the islands, from destroyed homes to contaminated water sources.
Jenelle Eli, director, International Communications for the American Red Cross, has deployed to the area and reports the situation is dire, especially on Abaco. Video footage of Abaco shows total obliteration of portions of the island and large areas completely covered by water. Thousands are in need of food and water.
“Our relief operation is growing, but we are also facing serious challenges in terms of delivering aid,” Eli reports. “These challenges include damaged airports and destroyed telecommunications networks. Even search-and-rescue choppers haven’t been able to reach some people because there’s no place to land. These challenges are affecting everyone.”
A rapid assessment and response team is currently focusing on emergency shelter and urgent needs. Relief supplies to support temporary shelter needs of 1,500 families are in country. Red Cross shelter and other sector specialists are on the ground to provide immediate relief while conducting assessments, and search and rescues is a current priority while the full scope and scale of needs is still being determined. Red Cross volunteers and staff will also distribute meals and food rations to people who may have gone without food in days.
“People I spoke to on Abaco today told some pretty horrific stories," Eli said. "Every person I spoke to lost their home. They each had a story about trying to hold their roofs down in the high winds and then running from neighbor’s home to neighbor’s home seeking safety. But each home they sought shelter in got destroyed too. They said that the most damaged areas are decimated.”
There are many ways in which Niagara County residents can support relief efforts.
To make a financial gift to support Hurricane Dorian relief, visist www.HelpSalvationArmy.org, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or send donations by mail to: The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.
To support the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. In the U.S., this includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance. In the Bahamas, the American Red Cross has committed an initial contribution of $2 million to support relief efforts and is partnering with the IFRC and the Bahamas Red Cross to help the islands recover.
For those interested in helping people specifically in the Bahamas, they should write “Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas” in the memo line of a check and mail it to their local Red Cross chapter with the completed donation form available at redcross.org/donate.