Wednesday, September 4, 2019

How Central Floridians can help our neighbors in the Bahamas

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 3:44 AM

  • Image via Shevrin Jones / Twitter

Updated | Thursday, 11:00 a.m., with new information about supply flights out of Sanford.

Floridians breathed a collective sigh of relief Tuesday, as Hurricane Dorian largely passed by Florida without causing major damage. The Bahamas were not nearly as fortunate, with catastrophic destruction across multiple islands leaving at least seven people dead.

Early NBC News videos showed the total devastation, with "roof-less homes, fallen walls, toppled trees, flooded streets, front yards filled with water and debris and cars strewn about will greet evacuated homeowners upon their return to neighborhoods."

A report by Al Jazeera quotes local hurricane relief organizer Lia Head-Rigby as saying, "It's total devastation. It's decimated. Apocalyptic," and that her representative on Abaco told her that there were "a lot more dead" and that the bodies were being gathered. "It's not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again."

People in Bahamas needs our help, and it's easy to give and make a difference.

You can donate to relief efforts directly through the American Red Cross, the Global Aid Network, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's (CDP) 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund, or volunteer with All Hands and Hearts.

Florida-based airline, Air Unlimited, announced on Wednesday it is donating use of their airplanes to relief efforts in the Abaco Islands. They are preparing for ongoing humanitarian flights to begin as soon as they are cleared for travel.

Volunteer pilots can utilize the Air Unlimited hangar as a launch point and command center for organizing a variety of flight missions, as well, the company said. "This is in addition to collecting supplies, which will be loaded onto Air Unlimited aircraft and volunteer pilot planes to be taken to the islands."

Air Unlimited in Sanford is accepting monetary donations for supplies and aircraft fuel to transport resources and conduct medical evacuation missions at:

The Air Unlimited facilities at the Orlando Sanford International Airport will also be used as a collection point for relief supplies, such as first aid kits, rope, flashlights, hygiene products, and more. Those interested in donating critical items can follow the drop off directions below.

Drop-off location: Air Unlimited: 4130 Centerline Ln., Sanford, FL 32773

Collection hours are 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. They recommend you call ahead to ensure staff is available at that time: 407-585-4300.

Air Unlimited is a boutique luxury airline that specializes in island flights and private aircraft charters, with routes to Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas.

Here in Orlando, relief supply efforts are being organized by state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, who asks that supplies be dropped off at her district office at 1507 E. Concord Street in Orlando. The drop-off days are Monday, Sept. 9 and Tuesday, Sept. 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

The requested supplies include nonperishable food and water, as well as hygiene and medical supplies.
Eskamani's efforts are in coordination with state Rep. Shevrin Jones, who has family in the Bahamas and posted video accounts of their ordeal on Twitter during the storm.
Jones, whose office is in West Park in Broward County, had earlier listed items in need for Bahamas relief efforts, as well:
The long-term effects of the storm are not yet fully known, but in an interview on WLRN, Americas editor Tim Padgett spoke about the Bahamas devastation and the urgent need to make the Bahamas and other islands more resilient to monster storms.

"Every time I talk to a prime minister from a Caribbean island, the point they always make is: 'Look, we have very little responsibility for the greenhouse emissions that create global warming, but yet we take the brunt of the suffering in the form of these more powerful storms."

More donation methods and volunteer opportunities are expected in coming weeks.
click to enlarge Donations being gathered for the Bahamas on Sept. 3 - IMAGE VIA SHEVRIN JONES / TWITTER
  • Image via Shevrin Jones / Twitter
  • Donations being gathered for the Bahamas on Sept. 3
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