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Swept Away: Bahamian Islands in the Wake of Hurricane Dorian

Sheets of rain, powerful winds and rushes of seawater took the Bahamian Islands by storm for three days straight on September 1st through 3rd, 2019. Destruction to the islands and the loss of life is staggering and according to the Washington Post, the Category Five hurricane is the strongest hurricane to ever affect the Bahamas. 

International Medical Corps has been helping victims since they were able to travel safely to the islands. As stated in one report by the organization, “two weeks ago, High Rock [the city they have set up a clinic in] counted about 600 residents. Today, fewer than 100 remain, living without water, power and working toilets, with only the remains of their homes for shelter.”  In another report, International Medical Corps shared that they have deployed 48 healthcare professionals and supporting staff.

 The death toll is reported to be at 54 two weeks post-storm and expected to climb in the coming weeks, with the number of reported missing people hovering near 1,200. The United Nations estimates Hurricane Doran has left nearly 76,000 people homeless and without any adequate shelter at all.

The storm progressed slowly; at times it moved at 1 mile per hour. This coupled with the winds that reached 185 miles per hour as it reached the islands was a recipe for disaster. Dorian pummeled the islands for 36 hours. Following the hurricane, flooding from storm surges added insult to injury and flooded out most of Grand Bahama and other islands. 

Red Cross reports that entire neighborhoods have been leveled on the islands and many people have been trapped in the rubble. Buildings have been toppled and on Abaco Island and wells have been contaminated with seawater. Hundreds of RedCross volunteers have been deployed to aid in relief efforts.

According to the World Food Programme, preliminary damage estimates total $7 billion US dollars. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has announced a statewide relief effort in partnership with the Bahamian Consulate to encourage New Yorkers across the state to donate desperately needed items. He has expanded the drop off locations initially set up by the Bahamian Consulate in New York City to the entire state. Governor Cuomo released a statement saying, “Across New York, people are encouraged to drop off dry goods and personal hygiene items for donation at selected locations between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.” 

Dr. Roy A. Hastick, Sr., CEO and Founder of Carribean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry is quoted saying, “As the people in the Bahamas struggle to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian, these supplies will provide individuals and families the support and care they need to get back on their feet.” This outpouring of support for the tiny islands is a true testimony to the ability of the world to come together in times of need.

If you are willing and able, no donation is too small. Anything and everything will have a huge impact on Bahamian recovery. The drop off site nearest Siena College is the Empire State Plaza Main Concourse located at 100 South Mall Arterial in Albany.