It’s usually “Better in the Bahamas”, but the past two weeks for my country have been a nightmare; a nightmare we’ve all been desperately trying to wake up from. However, every time our eyes open, the reality hits us not only visually, but on an emotional level too grandiose to quantify. On September 1st, Hurricane Dorian made landfall on a group of major islands referred to as The Abacos. With sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, and the islands lying below sea level, storm surges quickly engulfed the islands in sea water, flooding homes, washing anchored yachts at the marinas ashore. Cars floating aimlessly about the streets, and worst of all, forceful winds not only destroying the roofs of people’s homes, but swiftly whisking away persons to their deaths who dared to brave the howling storm in an attempt to escape the rising water levels inside their houses. Some even drowned, with nowhere to escape. Courageous civilians in motorboats and those mounted on jet-skis rode around neighborhoods to help those trapped in the attics of their homes escape during the passage of Hurricane Dorian’s eye. From those who’ve lived through it, the stories seem endless and even more horrifying each time you hear a different one.
For those in Grand Bahama, the stories are much too similar, as the storm moved westward a day later and battered the island for 36 hours, still a category 5 hurricane. The stories are far too harrowing to detail. The images, news reports, and videos we’ve all seen can strongly attest to that. But with about 70,000 (out of a population of a little less than half a million) Bahamian residents displaced after losing everything, the country is in dire straights and in need of major assistance after an estimated $7 billion in damages and about 90% of both these islands left in utter ruins.
There has already been an overwhelming amount of love and support from major conglomerates a few of our islands have had deep relationships and business ties with for decades. Donations from Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Line have helped to evacuate, feed, and temporarily house thousands of displaced survivors. Our sister Caribbean countries have all pitched in to provide aide, support, and relief items to those in need. The US Coast Guard in conjunction with the British Royal Navy and our own Royal Armed Forces were pivotal in evacuating survivors and getting them to shelter after Dorian subsided. Even a few of our favorite celebs like Lenny Kravitz, Klay Thompson, Lil Duval (all three with deep Bahamian roots), Rihanna, Machel Montano, Michael Jordan, and Ludacris among many others have started relief efforts and foundations for a country that is forever grateful.
Global tennis phenom, Serena Williams was even snapped volunteering at a shelter in New Providence, where the majority of survivors fled to.
Though many of the companies and a few of the celebrities who have opened their hearts with an immeasurable amount of compassion have received a distasteful amount of negative criticism, when loved ones can describe to you what it means to have to literally run through blinding white mist and hissing winds to try to save not only their own lives, but the lives of their children and disabled or sickly parents, you come to understand that any little bit helps those with nothing left. You also come to understand what survivors of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Hurricane Harvey in Texas had to endure. Whether it’s through donating goods, clothes or money; whether it’s through volunteering; whether it’s through visiting the other fourteen beautiful major islands that weren’t affected to continue to stimulate the economy, there are tons of ways you can help should your hearts move you to do so.
You can still swim with the pigs and enjoy the tranquil waters of the Exuma Cays.
You can still enjoy horseback rides, pineapple picking, and the pink sandy shores on the beaches surrounding Eleuthera.
You can still swim with the sharks or take some amazing underwater shots off the coasts of Bimini, go bonefishing with the boys of Bair’s Lodge in South Andros, and deep sea dive in Dean’s Blue Hole in Long Island.
You can still visit the Baha Mar resort in Nassau or the Atlantis on Paradise Island, as well as visit some historical monuments peppered throughout both islands. Take a foodie tour of Nassau and eat to your heart’s content. Mas with us every May for Bahamas Carnival and take in the ornate costumes, thunderous beating of goatskin drums, and flawless choreography every Boxing Day and New Year’s Day for Junkanoo.
Though we’ve been bruised and battered, though the ominous presence of a literal dark cloud still lingers over us long after it’s passed, contrary to popular belief, we’re still here, as resilient as we can be, #bahamasstrong, and still open for visitors.
If you’d like to help, but not sure where to start, find out if your local Bahamian embassy, high commission or consulate is participating in any relief efforts for survivors by clicking for a list of their locations around the world here.
You can also donate to reputable organizations like the Bahamas Red Cross, being one of many, or send relief supplies to survivors at shelters through Amazon, who has also been pivotal in getting much needed items to displaced survivors.
Despite the warnings and precautions taken, no one could’ve predicted the ongoing tragedy that would ensue, especially since nothing like this has ever happened to the Bahamas before. However, despite the many challenges, setbacks, and crises we’ve faced as a nation from this natural disaster, now, we can only learn from this ordeal and move Forward, Upward, Onward Together.