Volunteers out of Jacksonville Beach to help Dorian survivors in Bahamas

For many, the trip is personal

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Local organizations are coming together to help out survivors of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

U-Haul trucks full of supplies were loaded up, ready to head to the Bahamas, as Adventures in God's Creation and Island Crisis Flyers met at the Seawalk Hotel in Jacksonville Beach on Thursday night, after the storm moved north past the Northeast Florida coast Wednesday, to discuss their plans to help those impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

"There's people I know that I haven't heard from that I talked to right before the storm hit and so I'm really concerned," said Jimbo  Stockton, with Adventures in God's Creation. 

For many of the volunteers, the trip is personal. Some of them grew up there, vacation there or had done missionary work throughout the islands. 

"I actually got engaged to my wife down in the Bahamas and so we have a lot of friends who have property, friends and family down there that are actually Bahamian, so we're willing to help out in any way that we can," said volunteer Steven Sipprell. 

Volunteer Matt Lahti said he grew up in Sandy Point on Great Abaco island and has been messaging with people down there. The island's main hospital is Marsh Harbor Healthcare Center, where several hundred people are now living temporarily.

"They're just getting Marsh Harbor stabilized now and people are getting evacuated from the out islands. They started with the critically injured and now they're working through women and children, elderly," Lahti said. 

Some have even received voice messages from loved ones in the Bahamas, describing the devastation. 

"There's nobody you can go to here. The police are only picking up bodies. So far, we went to go to a shelter and we ran into three bodies, including my neighbor. He died," a woman in the Bahamas can be heard saying in a voicemail.

A woman left a voicemail for her friends in the Jacksonville area, describing the damage.

"Everything in Marsh Harbor, Dunstown, Murphy Town, everywhere is a disaster. It's finished for this area. Every house is down, all the roofs are down, all the stores are down, all the hardwares are down, there's water everywhere."

The volunteers said it's crucial that they get down there and help with the humanitarian crisis triggered by Dorian, which pounded the Bahamas with Category 5 winds up to 185 mph. That's why they plan to take planes and large boats to hand-deliver the supplies to Bahamian people to make sure they get the help they need.

The volunteers hoped to head to the Bahamas on Friday morning and some will be camping out there.

According to organizers, volunteers are still needed to help with the efforts focusing on areas such as Abaco and Marsh Harbor.

Anyone who has a plane or a large boat that they can take was asked to reach out. Click here for more information.

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