In the wake of a long process of rebuilding and rejuvenating a devastated nation, Northwest student organizations have been funding for Bahamas hurricane relief efforts.
As Bahama Islands relief workers salvage and build up from what was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, an international cry for help in the form of funds and aid was heard by students on campus.
Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in September and left an especially large impact on people from Grand Bahama, Abaco and Marsh Harbour. Thousands were displaced and resources have been limited for survivors.
Several organizations took advantage of the opportunity by organizing fundraising events, setting up tables in the J.W. Jones Student Union and asking for donations from the student body and Northwest community.
Organizations that have taken charge so far include The Lighthouse, the Wesley Center and the National Residence Hall Honorary organization.
The NRHH brought breakfast catering company Chris Cakes to a fundraiser at the College Park Pavillion Oct. 12, where all proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross for Bahama Hurricane Relief.
Junior NRHH President Carrington Kass said the organization felt moved to raise money, even if it was just a small amount.
“We host a lot of service projects on campus, and it just made sense for us to find a way to donate to the Bahamas,” Kass said.
The Wesley Center set up a table in the J.W. Jones Student Union the week of Oct. 6 and took donations through cash and Venmo, which were also given to the Red Cross.
The Lighthouse raised $250 through membership and outside sources, sending funds to assist the Bahamas through Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief.
As organizations on campus chip in with donations to various relief programs, the Bahamas are slowly recuperating from the tragedy.
The Category 5 storm ripped apart most of the island’s infrastructure and left people with little hope for their future. Six weeks after the initial hit, the islands of people are still desperate, crying out for a glimpse of life as it once was, wondering if it will ever be normal again.
According to NPR reporter Jason Bobian, who spoke on NPR’s podcast “Up First” Oct. 2, the situation is slowly improving. However, places like Marsh Harbour, which was once the commercial hub for the islands, still have a long way to go.
“There are places that are completely empty,” Bobian said. “Just eerily empty.”
In the aftermath, government officials prioritized triage, relief and dealing with damaged infrastructure. Bobian said the largest issue Bahama authorities are facing is the toppled buildings and debris that needs to be moved, relocated and, in some cases, rebuilt.
“They are working on lining up a huge area as a dump south of Marsh Harbour,” Bobian said. “They are working on that process … so you got this huge rubble removal operation moving.”
Junior Eldaneka “Neka” Rolle’s family was directly impacted by Hurricane Dorian. Her mother was on Grand Bahama while the slow-moving storm sat over the islands for 48 hours.
Nearly every home was severely damaged or destroyed near Rolle’s family residence on the island.
According to Rolle, the island is in the process of resurrection, and her family has been well.
“They are in a cleanup phase,” Rolle said. “The water is still bad because of contamination, and they are still largely in need.”
Rolle said power is being restored in parts of the islands, and private, and some public, schools are reopening for half days so children do not miss out on the opportunity to further their education due to something so far from their control.
Sylvin McIntyre, a head of the emergency operations center in Abaco, Bahamas, spoke to Bobian on the island, noting cleanup has been a large focus.
“The removal of debris is critical,” McIntyre said. “It’s something that helps the psyche of people. It helps you feel that there is a sense of greater hope.”
Throughout the island, people are lacking the resources to attain food as almost every grocery store has been destroyed. Many charities have taken steps to provide food and have helped in some capacity, but the resources are still limited.
Rolle notes lack of resources as a reason fundraising events like Chris Cakes and donations from The Lighthouse and Wesley Center are so critical at this point in time.
“This is human love,” Rolle said. “This shows how much we really care for one another.”
Former Sheriff Darren White works for Chris Cakes, a breakfast food catering company that began in Pocahontas, Iowa, and now has locations across the country. White said the event spoke to Northwest’s ability to make things happen.
“Sometimes, people just don’t know about things that don’t happen to them,” White said. “It really shows how aware these kids and the community are.”
According to CNN, a rough estimate of 70,000 homeless people are in search of emergency shelter and clean, drinkable water. Some are sick, hungry and at a loss for what is to come.
The American Red Cross initially donated $2 million to the Bahamas and is working on the ground in the islands providing supplies and support. They are also working with Palm Beach County Emergency Management to provide shelter for those who are fleeing to the U.S.
According to the Red Cross website, it has provided food, water and hygiene products to evacuees as they plan their next steps.
The Red Cross also includes information on how one can donate through its website.