West Palm Beach just missed the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, Hurricane Dorian. The Bahamas, our closest neighbors to the west took the brunt of the storm.
Individuals and other local organizations stepped up in a big way over the last few weeks and turned West Palm Beach into the staging ground for Bahamas relief efforts.
Two weeks ago I wrote about 7 ways you can help The Bahamas – here are 6 more local organizations who are helping.
1. Bahamas Relief Cruise
Members of our downtown hospitality industry came together to gather supplies and organize delivery. The CEO of Bahama Paradise Cruise donated the Grand Bahamas ship and 600 crew to bring 300 volunteers and 42 pallets of supplies including 50 generators, 20 chainsaws, 15 pallets of water and 10 pallets of food.
The first shipment of supplies brought food and water to people who hadn’t had a hot meal in days.
Groups of volunteers helped clear out an orphanage that had its first floor completely flooded while people took shelter on the 2nd floor. They also gave water, food and medical aid to to 4000 people who had lined up in 98 degree heat waiting to leave the island.
The Grand Paradise was able to bring 1100 refugees back to the Port of Palm Beach.
The second trip left on September 15th bringing additional aid.
The hard part starts as the islands of The Bahamas try to rebuild their devastated infrastructure as the conditions continue to deteriorate.
A website bahamasreliefcruise.org was set up to look at long term relief efforts. And a drive was created to raise money and organize volunteer efforts with the Grand Bahamas cruise ship. As of this writing they have raised $542,280 of their $1,000,000 goal.
2. Banyan Cay Resort
Banyan Cay Resort, located on the shores of Lake Mangonia just outside downtown donated a $100,000 mobile kitchen to aid in relief work.
“I’ve been watching the news, and there is so much destruction. I realized while so many people are donating food, there are areas so devastated there isn’t the simple infrastructure needed to offer hot meals to survivors.” Club owner Domenic Gatto, Jr. says ”We have this mobile kitchen just sitting here. If we can find an organization that can handle getting it over there, I know it can help,”
Work is currently underway to get this mobile kitchen to help those in need.
3. Grandview Public Market
The team at Grandview Public Market is partnering with the Green Turtle Cay Foundation. This charitable, not-for-profit organization was founded in 1996 to help give visitors to the Cay as a way to support the community and enhance life on the island. The foundation has raised money to support various projects in the Bahamas with an emphasis on improving local schools, libraries, medical clinics, park facilities and physical environment as well as the local cultural events and programs.
“We chose Green Turtle Cay Foundation because of their ties with Abaco, Bahamas,” said Joe Muniz, manager of Grandview Public Market. “We will be working with them as long as people continue to want to give.”
You can drop off supplies at a dedicated drop off site within Grandview Market.
Other businesses are joining the relief efforts. Gypsy Life Surf Shop is asking that donors focus on shelter-type items like tents, blankets and sleeping bags. Anything donated to Gypsy Life will support Hope Town, Elbow Cay Relief.
Steel Tie Spirits, also in the Warehouse District, has partnered with the West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation (EWF). Founded by Palm Beach County native Scott Lewis, EWF is an all-volunteer organization that is well known for their immediate response and high impact efforts following natural disasters in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. You can drop off supplies at Steel Tie during their opening hours.
4. Eagles Wings Foundation
Eagles Wings Foundation gathered over 40 tons of supplies which they are shipping to the Bahamas on a cargo ship. They are also flying in shipments of aid on planes, as well as helping clear roads and bring much needed aid from the airports to the people in need.
Donate to Eagles Wings Foundation at ewfrelief.org.
5. The Paradise Fund
The Paradise Fund has experience in first response efforts. In hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin the team of pilots and volunteers arrived days before any government help and have delivered much needed supplies to people struggling to survive.
To date the organization has raised over $49,000 for The Bahamas. In the three days following the storm they sent over 30 plane loads of supplies.
“Last night we heard Moore’s Island had only received ONE planeload of supplies. They desperately needed water as their water supply was destroyed and many people were getting dehydrated. ” Kent Anderson, organizer of a GoFundMe posted “They also needed food and other supplies. Over the course of six hours, we loaded several planes and delivered over 12,000lbs of water, food, and supplies.”
Donate to the Paradise Fund at: bit.ly/dorianrelief
6. Take a Vacation
While some of the islands of the Bahamas were absolutely devastated, many were relatively unscathed. Their primary source of income is our tourism, and the government of The Bahamas is encouraging people not to cancel any planned vacations. So go ahead and treat yourself to that Bahamas vacation you had planned, you deserve it!
If you book a trip to the Bahamas on Tuesday, Sept. 17, using the booking site CheapCaribbean, 100 percent of the profits will be donated to the National Association of The Bahamas. On top of that, CheapCaribbean is matching donations up to $50,000 (or up to $1,000 per person) through Oct. 15, according to the site.
Now that I think about it, I haven’t had a vacation in a while… Bahamas here I come!