On Sunday we began to feel the effects of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian. I had friends in America reaching out to me to check on and I had to tell them that the hurricane was impacting The Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama not New Providence. While we experienced a lot of rain and flooding, the devastation was felt far beyond that. On Monday I woke up to someone stealing the entire front end of my car. Even my brand new battery was stolen. My brother scared the person before he could take anything else and at least he left behind my bumper. I was angry, I was sad, but I was mostly numb. I was even more angry to see people telling Nassuvians to stop flooding the timelines with their problems when so many people on the islands had it worst. It angered me because no one has a right to tell anyone their pain is insignificant; everyone’s pain is relevant to their own struggles. I had friends who hadn’t heard from their parents in hours and had no idea where other family members were. Some friends home flooded, and some people were still expected to return to work despite everything going on. At this point, I am still waiting to hear when I am expected to return to work. But I know once I do, my entire Guidance department is going to hit the ground running in relief efforts.
While some people have already offered assistance like the U.S. Coast Guard and Dominica offering $100,000, there are still many way you can assist. For those who are home, please make productive use of this 'down time' to prepare care boxes and bags from our own possessions. We need to go through our wardrobes and sort clothing. Label them according to size and gender as you pack them, for ease of distribution. Put together a few bars of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, ladies' sanitary items etc. (many of us shop in bulk and have more than we need). Share a few face cloths and towels, a sheet or two. You may even have an air mattress that you can give! Give tins of tuna, sardines, corned beef, Vienna sausages, crackers, cookies, snacks, water and any non perishable items that require minimal/no preparation. Remember those items you stocked up on in preparation for the storm? They are needed!
Water, disposable items such as plates and napkins as well as hand sanitizer are useful. In fact, anything that you use or want, can be helpful. While this list is not exhaustive, it's simply suggestions for response in this crisis. And we cannot forget how important sanitary pads for women are as well as any pain medication, baby food, diapers, toilet paper, bed sheets - all of the things people often overlook when donating. Think about it, these people are rebuilding - they’re going to need more than just food items.
If you are in Florida this is how you can help:
Because we already have 5 confirmed dead in Abaco and the death toll is expected to rise. Because people have lost EVERYTHING. Because this is a major financial setback for many people. Because the PTSD is real with these people. There are people who had to hide in their ceiling while they awaited rescue because of the flooding, some waited on the roof, some in their car. We are grateful for all of the help we’ve already received but there is so much more to be done. So please do what you can. Every donation helps.