It’s always a sad occasion when I have to write one of these posts – as I have in past summers when Belize was hit with an unexpected Category 1 hurricane a few years ago, or when Puerto Plata was hit with severe floods.
As you know, this week Category 5 Hurricane Dorian hit two islands in the Bahamas archipelago. Grand Bahama, which I visited several years back – the main photo on this post is from stunning Gold Rock Beach; and Abaco, which I’ve always wanted to visit because of friends who have raved about it for years.
My heart sunk when I read that the hurricane churned and churned right over Grand Bahama hour after hour, for up to 24 hours. I cannot imagine the terror and desperation of being stuck there. I also shudder at the thought that Dorian’s original predicted path had it passing over Saint Vincent and the Grenadines while we were attending the Caribbean Sustainable Conference last week, then possibly over Puerto Rico and along the Dominican Republic’s coastline, my home. I might not have been sitting here at all. We were so, so fortunate and I’m sad that our neighbors to the north were not.
What I find encouraging, however, is that when disaster does strike, most people ask: what can I do to help? Where can we donate? The most important kind of post, then, is a list of trusted sources with ways on assisting hurricane relief efforts.
Thanks to recommendations from Bahamian friends and colleagues, as well as the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, below are three key websites and organizations to donate, or with information on where to drop off supplies in Miami. They are 100% reliable, meaning that all of what you give is sent directly or used to help those in need.
1. The HeadKnowles Organization in The Bahamas
Per my Bahamian friends and colleagues, as well as fellow Moon Bahamas author Mariah Moyle, HeadKnowles is a locally-run organization with a solid record for doing valuable hurricane relief work. You can find their GoFundMe link here. Locally run, grassroots groups that have a proven record are golden. Here’s an article on the organization in today’s Nassau Guardian.
Don’t feel as if what you give is not enough; any amount goes a long way and adds up to everyone’s donations.
2. The Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Hurricane Relief Fund
The CTO is made up of 24 member countries, including The Bahamas, that stick together through thick and thin. The organization has always worked to support their members in times of need – as they did during Hurricane Maria and Irma – and beyond that, they work on numerous projects, including scholarship fundraisers, for the betterment of the Caribbean, per destination and for the region at large.
What I also love about the CTO is that they help their members with getting the right information out to the news and support them in marketing efforts.
Here is a link to the CTO’s Hurricane Relief Fund to Help Families and Countries Rebuild after Hurricanes.
3. The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism: Supply Drop Off Locations
In an attempt to help direct the numerous public inquiries on how to help and where to donate, Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism has put together this helpful Hurricane Relief page, which includes all the drop off locations in Miami.
If anyone knows of additional highly recommended and vetted donation links or locations – please do get in touch with me or post in the comments and I’ll have a look.
Other ways to help
Mind the news you read
You can mind the news and notice whenever a media outlet attempts to lump all the islands of The Bahamas and suggest that the entire destination was hit by Dorian. Too often the Caribbean has to deal with additional work and grief keeping the US/foreign media educated. Let’s all chip in by being careful with the articles we share online, avoiding sensationalist and generic headlines, and instead being specific with the words we use to share updates during this ongoing monster of a hurricane.
Share disaster images sparingly
I personally think it serves no one to share dramatic footage of someone’s home and belongings being destroyed. Let’s instead tweet back asking if they are OK, if they need help and are in distress. Check on your friends on these islands if you’ve visited in the past – the tour guides, the hotel owners, the staff that welcomed you – and keep us all informed. Feel free to share and comment here as well.
Climate change is here to stay and affecting all of us – so let’s all chip in for we do not know what tomorrow will bring.
Last but not least – thank you. For being here on the blog, for always caring and asking about how you can help. Let’s keep Florida and Georgia in our thoughts and prayers as well and hope for the best.