Hurricane Dorian One Year Later: FFTP Helps Bahamas Rebuild, Partners with United Way to Provide Water to Abaco
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Aug. 31, 2020) As Food For The Poor marks the first anniversary of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, the charity is responding to the current situation in Louisiana and in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as a result of Hurricane Laura, which slammed into the Gulf Coast early Thursday after swirling through the Caribbean as a tropical storm.
Food For The Poor has airfreighted two disaster relief kits with multiple pallets of critically needed goods to Haiti and the D.R to help families recovering from extensive flooding caused by Laura. Ten more tractor-trailer loads of relief items are being sent — six to the FFTP-Haiti warehouse in Port-au-Prince and four to the D.R., where partners Fundacion Cruz Jiminian and the Order of Malta will oversee distribution.
Families on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, meanwhile, facing a one-two punch of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Isaias this season, continue rebuilding their lives and homes almost one year after the historic Hurricane Dorian battered the islands with 150 mph winds and towering storm surges.
In the past year, Food For The Poor has shipped:
- Nearly 100 containers of building supplies to the Bahamas, including 34 to the Baptist Church, 32 to the Roman Catholic Church and 32 to the Episcopal Church.
- A total of 150 solar-powered street lights to the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority.
- Thirty truck chassis, including 26 to the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority and four to the HeadKnowles Foundation, to help move shipping containers arriving in the Bahamas.
- Forty-seven tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies, including food, generators, cleaning supplies and hygiene kits, plus two Bobcat loaders, and two disaster relief pallets sent by air freight.
The charity also has provided four water desalination units with partner Water Mission, providing thousands of gallons of clean water a day in McLean’s Town and Pelican Point on Grand Bahama, and in Treasure Cay and Green Turtle Cay in Abaco.
In Treasure Cay, the system served patients and relief workers at one of the few remaining clinics left standing after Dorian. In Green Turtle Cay, water was provided to both relief workers and residents, which allowed students to return to school.
“Without this water, residents would not have been able to return to their homes to put the pieces back together,” said Danny Bain, system operator in Pelican Point and McLean’s Town.
In recent months, the focus has shifted from short-term emergency relief to lasting recovery projects, with the help of Bahamian churches and other trusted partners.
“The Bahamian people have shown incredible resiliency,” Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine said. “So much has been achieved, thanks to the churches and our compassionate donors, but much remains to be done. Food For The Poor is committed to being there every step of the way.”
FFTP is working with Water Mission and United Way on two more critically needed projects that would rely on solar-generated energy to power the water distribution system and carry water directly to households.
Dorian damaged water infrastructure on Abaco, causing salt water to infiltrate much of the Bahamas’ water supply.
The new solar-powered water systems will be in Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, the latter serving both residents and three medical clinics in desperate need of water. United Way agencies in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have committed $1 million to build both projects.
Churches and the HeadKnowles Foundation, a nonprofit based in the Bahamas, continue to play a key role in the rebuilding and recovery.
From March through most of July, HeadKnowles provided food and other aid to 10,000 people a week. The foundation’s work was only temporarily halted due to lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In early August, Hurricane Isaias ripped shingles off roofs and uprooted trees in the Bahamas. With homes still not shored up from Dorian, even a weaker hurricane like Isaias was enough to set back families also dealing with the coronavirus.
“If people aren’t working, they don’t have money to buy anything,” said Gina Knowles, founder of the HeadKnowles Foundation. “It’s just one pile up after another.”
For much of the past year, the Episcopal Church in the Bahamas focused on helping as many as 500 families repair their homes on Grand Bahama.
Now, the church is shifting to helping 37 families rebuild homes that were destroyed, said Archdeacon Earl Hepburn, of the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
In the aftermath of Dorian, as many as 90 percent of Grand Bahama’s residents indicated they would not rebuild and would leave the island, said Pastor Lloyd Rolle, of the Bethel Baptist Church. But one year later, Rolle said many have changed their minds.
“I said the same thing. It’s hard not to think that when you see the devastation,” Rolle said. “Now, many people realize they have nowhere to go, no money, and since COVID-19, no job. Folks are doing what they can to get back into their homes and make repairs.”
Rolle’s church has assisted 400 families by providing building materials to repair their homes.
“Folks are coming to me every day for help,” he said. “The whole bottom line is we need help.”
After Dorian, the Archdiocese of Nassau surveyed all five churches on Grand Bahama, asking the congregations to document damage and put together a list of needs. Fr. David Cooper estimates thousands were helped with initial relief supplies.
“We went out Monday through Saturday. We didn’t rest,” Cooper said. “After five weeks, we repeated the cycle.”
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the recovery momentum in the spring as lockdowns closed businesses and forced people to shelter in their homes.
“Before the coronavirus, we were making good strides, good progress. You saw people kind of getting their stride back,” Cooper said.
“None of the progress, however, would be possible without Food For The Poor’s donors,” Cooper said.
“We touched a lot of homes and a lot of lives, thanks to your generosity,” Cooper said. “Our goal was to get the building supplies to those who needed them as soon as possible. You helped us accomplish that.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned and abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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