Groups, volunteers from around the world helping with Bahamas relief

Hurricane Dorian leaves tens of thousands without homes, water, electricity

Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas as a Category 5, leaving tens of thousands of people on the islands without homes, running water, electricity and basic necessities.

The humanitarian crisis has organizations and volunteers coming from all over the world to help. 

News4Jax anchor and reporter Vic Micolucci and photojournalist Jesse Hanson spent Saturday and Sunday in the Bahamas, covering the crisis and relief efforts.

Over the weekend, rescue teams were still trying to reach some Bahamian communities isolated by floodwaters and debris after the disaster that killed at least 44 people, most of them on Abaco Island. The U.S. Coast Guard said it has rescued a total of 290 people in the northern Bahamas following the hurricane. Six MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and nine cutters are helping in the aid effort, the Coast Guard said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents brought in life-sustaining supplies and flying those with the direst needs back to Nassau, where there are more resources. 

Hundreds of people -- including one group that came 7 ½ hours from the Abacos, which was among the hardest-hit areas -- have been arriving daily at a dock in Nassau daily.

Alicia, 3, came with her father. Her pregnant mother was taken to the hospital in town. Their home was destroyed. 

"It's finished. We don't know how (long) it will take to repair," one man said. "If they could take me somewhere to stay and live, I would appreciate it." 

It was an ominous situation at the port, where more Dorian survivors, many with just the clothes on their backs, were arriving, fleeing horrific conditions.

"You still have multiple bodies in the water. A lot of people died in their homes and they couldn't swim because the water is so high," said Abacos resident Steven Dottin. "People are killing ... right now for water and bread. My friend got killed last night over water and bread." 

When the News4Jax crew was at the ferry stop, the crew didn't see any law enforcement officers or government officials helping, only volunteers -- fellow Bahamians with supplies and information.

"We're all human beings. We all need help. Let's always be there for one another," said Joyce Arty, with United Association of Haitians in the Bahamas.

"We are helping hundreds now. They keep coming," said the Rev. Dr. Antoine St. Louis, president of the United Association of Haitians in the Bahamas. 

Relief groups are asking for donations. Money is best because shipping supplies is hard. Air mattresses, baby food, diapers and toiletries are needed.

"It was a disaster," Grand Bahama resident Tanayo Hart said. "Glad we (made) it through the storm."

Hart has seen more than a 12-year-old should. He and his family huddled together in Hurricane Dorian as the storm churned through Grand Bahama, destroying their home.

"I am thankful for life and I hope that somebody can please help us," he said.

Hart, his mother and baby sister were selected by the government to get on the Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. On Saturday morning, the ship stopped in Freeport and picked up 261 passengers, feeding them and giving them showers, blankets and a place to rest before dropping them off in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.

At the same time, cruise companies are keeping thousands of people fed. Royal Caribbean had been cooking, boxing and delivering 20,000 meals a day.

WATCH: Volunteers gathering donations for Dorian survivors in Bahamas

The News4Jax crew saw employees volunteer their time overnight to prepare and unload the food as the sun came up. It was welcome relief for the Bahamas, where even a basic meal can keep people going. 

"I think we need a lot of support and it's not just the food and water," said Sen. Katherine Smith, president of the Bahamian Senate. "It's psychological -- talking to people. It's coming to help people clean up."

Smiles. Despite losing everything, the children of The Abacos are sharing smiles. And it’s contagious. Don’t forget about them!

Posted by WJXT4 Vic Micolucci on Sunday, September 8, 2019