Hurricane Relief Efforts Under Way in Bahamas

Hurricane Relief Efforts Under Way in Bahamas

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater has deployed four MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews to the Bahamas to support search and rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, and the unit has provided some of the first photos available of the damage in the Abaco Islands and on Grand Bahama. The imagery shows widespread damage, with private boats tossed up on shore in marinas, shingles torn off buildings, foliage removed from trees and flooding affecting large areas.

Images courtesy USCG Air Station Clearwater

Hurricane Dorian stalled just off the coast of Grand Bahama Island for days before moving off to the northwest, bound for Florida. It came ashore in the Abaco Islands as a Category 5 storm on Sunday, bringing high winds, high water and devastation. At its peak, was the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the Bahamas – and the second-most-powerful Atlantic hurricane on record. 

The U.S. Coast Guard's aircrews have rescued 47 people since the storm began. At least five deaths have been reported, and the casualty count is expected to rise as search efforts continue and more areas regain communication. The Red Cross estimates that as many as 13,000 homes could be damaged in the Abaco Islands alone. 

Lcdr. Dustin Lee and Lt. Clay Kosack conduct a damage assessment flight over the Bahamas, Sept. 3 (USCG)

Storm surge appears to be a serious component of the damage: satellite operator Iceye estimates that about 60 percent of Grand Bahama Island's land area was inundated by flooding due to the storm. An image of Grand Bahama from 1145 hours local time Monday shows extensive portions of the island – including portions of the main airport – under water, with digital street map overlays illustrating the extent of the damage. 

Courtesy Iceye / Twitter

USAID, the United States' international development agency, said Tuesday that it has dispatched a team of experts to aid in relief. It is also airlifting emergency supplies – like plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, and water containers – from its warehouse in Miami to the Bahamas. 

Charitable relief initiatives are getting under way as well. Among other locally-directed efforts, the established Bahamian freight forwarding company Fowlco is collecting donations of relief goods at its Fort Lauderdale facility. The firm can be reached at 954-314-7139, and donations of goods may be directed to its Florida address at: Grand Bahama Port Authority c/o Fowlco, 3301 S. Andrews Ave. Unit 5 & 6, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316.

The government of the Bahamas has also posted an extensive list of approved, vetted options for disaster relief donations, available at

To make the relief effort easier, Broward County’s Port Everglades is waiving its tariff charges for ocean shipping lines transporting humanitarian relief supplies to the Bahamas. “We received requests from several ship operators to begin transporting goods to the Bahamas before Hurricane Dorian had even passed the islands,” said Port Everglades Acting Chief Executive & Port Director Glenn Wiltshire.  “The tariff waiver is a direct incentive to ocean carriers and companies supplying construction supplies, food and medicine to help the Bahamian people rebuild.”

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