Hurricane Dorian spared the Lowcountry and the state of South Carolina in terms of the potential damages that could have inundated the area. However, the same cannot be said for the Bahamas, where remains lie in destruction from the storm’s Category 5 devastating blow.
Over two weeks since Dorian’s 185 mph winds lashed thousands of homes in Grand Bahama, Abaco islands, Marsh Harbour, Hope Town and other areas, the death toll has risen to 50 and 1,300 are estimated to be missing, according to AP. Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the storm has left a “generational devastation.”
The storm left approximately 70,000 people homeless, with property damages estimated at $7 billion solely in the Bahamas, according to AP. Dorian is tied for being the second-strongest hurricane, in terms of wind speed, recorded in the Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As soon as Dorian departed from the southeast coastline, after addressing storm-related problems locally, Lowcountry residents and businesses shifted their focus to the Bahamas. Mount Pleasant resident Jamie Hough, founder of nonprofit Southeast Rescue & Relief, chose to make an impact firsthand.
On Sept. 7, a week after Dorian decimated the Bahamas, Hough hopped on a flight to directly aid those in need. From the airport, he met a friend with a boat who then transported him to the islands.
Unlike previous storms, where Hough was able to forewarn people to evacuate with knowledge of the flood areas, he found himself at a disadvantage with Dorian due to the unfamiliar island terrain.
“This being another country is a logistical nightmare,” Hough said.
Upon arrival, Hough described initial encounters with locals as “incredible.” He expressed how thankful they were for their relief efforts, especially amidst increased rates of criminal activity and poverty.
“It’s an emotional thing to know your friends out here have just lost everything,” Hough said. “They don’t have anywhere to live. There’s not a lot of second homes here so basically they’re having to go fortify a second home.”
Now that Hough’s inserted himself in the mix of the devastation, he and others opened a kitchen to provide meals to those in need. Every day he cooks breakfast and dinner for approximately 75 people in a single sitting.
When asked how Dorian’s destruction compares to a relatable storm like Hurricane Hugo, which Hough experienced, he said it was similar in terms of damage. However, the drastic difference being the infeasibility to evacuate.
During his daily routine, Hough carves out time to find the highest elevation near him to rely information to people and organizations back home. One company in particular who’s voluntarily invested itself is the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
MSC and their port partners, including the Port of Charleston, joined forces and loaded two, 40-foot shipping containers with critical supplies to send to the Port of Freeport, Bahamas.
“Our businesses have long been closely tied to the Bahamas and its people, with a rich history spanning over many decades,” stated Gianluigi Aponte, executive chairman and founder of MSC Group. “We now look forward to supporting their efforts to rebuild and recover in every way we can and through all our businesses.”
Maritime partners, including South Carolina Ports Authority, filled the shipping containers with over 200 gas generators, tarps, gas cans, canopy tents, power cords, extension cords, batteries, water, toiletries, baby wipes, diapers, cleaning supplies and other related items. Supplies were purchased from Costco and Lowe’s, with their extensive cooperation.
In addition to the influx of maritime aid, Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) volunteered a relief response following the orders of Water Mission International. They flew into Nassau last week and deployed by helicopter for three-day missions to Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay. MPW’s team consists of two crews of four men total. One crew will address the water, while the other tends to the wastewater. Also, they’ll assemble two skid Water Mission units for immediately accessible clean drinking water.
“Getting clean drinking water is the number one priority, obviously,” Clay Duffie, MPW General Manager. “Once they get the water system up and running they can concentrate on the sewer system. What we understand is both of those utility systems are not functioning at this time.”
Duffie estimates his crew will be there for two weeks. He says it usually take two weeks to get acclimated to the area and understand the intricacies of the water system. Logistically, the toughest maneuver will be transportation.
“We know that there’s not a lot of people there right now which is a good thing in order for the workers to get the system back on line,” Duffie said. “It’s a human tragedy there, but at this point you’ve got to just move forward and do the best you can and help people recover.”