Miamians are rallying together to help their island neighbors as Hurricane Dorian continues to bulldoze the northern Bahamas.
Dorian rapidly intensified into a Category 5 hurricane over the weekend before making landfall in the Bahamas yesterday. The National Hurricane Center says wind gusts reached up to 220 mph and "life-threatening" storm surge ranged from 18 to 23 feet in some areas. Heartbreaking videos and photos of decimated Bahamian communities flooded social media, and reports of extensive damage have been reported in Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay, and Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands. The Bahamas Press reported Dorian's first confirmed fatality, 7-year-old Lachino Mcintosh, late last night.
Hurricane Dorian isn't done with the Bahamas yet. The storm slowly moved west until it came to a virtual standstill last night over Grand Bahama, where it's expected to remain for 24 hours, pounding the island with up to 24 to 30 inches of torrential rainfall, catastrophic winds, and incredibly dangerous storm surge.
With Dorian expected to veer north away from South Florida, Miami relief organizations have already begun fundraising to help the Bahamas recover. Here are some ways you can help:
Support the City of Miami's donation drive. Yesterday Miami Commissioner Ken Russell announced the launch of BahamaStrong, a city webpage that coordinates the collection of goods needed in the Bahamas recovery effort. Because Hurricane Dorian is expected to veer north of Miami, it "gives us the opportunity to really help the people in need, which is the Bahamas," Russell said.
"I don't know how bad it's going to be when we wake up," he said in a Twitter live broadcast last night. "All I know is that we need to start gathering donations at this time."
Every fire station in the city of Miami is now accepting water, canned goods, can openers, mosquito spray, sunscreen, diapers, baby formula, first-aid items, flashlights, batteries, and small generators. Donations can also be dropped off at Coconut Grove's Greater St. Paul AME Church on Thomas Avenue and Christ Episcopal Church on William Avenue. All Books & Books locations have agreed to accept donations as well.
Russell says the City of Miami has access to flights that can take the donated goods to the Bahamas as soon as the winds from Hurricane Dorian subside.
Donate to the Miami-Dade Community Emergency Operations Center (CEOC). Local community groups, including New Florida Majority, Miami Climate Alliance, and the Smile Trust, are accepting donations of medical, hygiene, and general supplies for relief efforts in the Bahamas. Volunteers are also needed.
"While still focusing on South Florida, we also want to assist our neighbors in the Bahamas," says Valencia Gunder, founder of the CEOC, criminal justice program manager at the New Florida Majority, and executive director of the Smile Trust.
Donations are also being accepted online at the Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund organized by Gunder at the Smile Trust, a Miami-based nonprofit that assists the homeless community and provides disaster relief.
"Miami has a rich Bahamian history, and it's only right for us to assist our families and friends," Gunder says. "We are working very hard with partners to send relief as fast as we can."
Help the World Central Kitchen disaster-relief team feed Bahamians. Celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés, who owns the Bazaar in South Beach, has earned a reputation as the man who feeds affected communities after natural disasters. In 2017, his nonprofit World Central Kitchen fed Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria and provided food to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. The following year, he joined forces with Guy Fieri to bring Thanksgiving dinner to Paradise residents who had lost their homes in California's deadly Camp Fire.
World Central Kitchen's disaster-relief team is now on the ground to feed Bahamians devastated by Hurricane Dorian. There are four kitchens set up in the island nation: two on Grand Bahama, at Castaways Resort & Suites and the Grand Lucayan Resort; one on Great Abaco, at the Abaco Beach Resort; and one in Nassau, at Atlantis Bahamas.
Donations are accepted online.
Give to the Bahamas Red Cross Society. The Bahamas branch of the International Red Cross is requesting help with its Dorian-relief program. Specifically, it's looking for donations of nonperishable goods, water, toiletries, baby products, radios, batteries, candles, bedding, generators, and building supplies.
Join local community leaders for a fundraiser at the Clevelander. This Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., the Miami Beach Democratic Club, Miami Design Preservation League, Miami Community Newspapers, state Rep. Michael Grieco, Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora, and Miami Beach Commission candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez will host a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Dorian at the Clevelander. The $25 minimum entrance fee will be used to help survivors of the storm.
Contribute to the Bahamian-led HeadKnowles emergency funds. HeadKnowles is organizing once again after being recognized by the Government of the Bahamas for their relief efforts after Hurricane Joaquin, which struck the islands as a Category 4 hurricane in 2015. As of Wednesday morning, they've raised over $410,000 on GoFundMe.
Provide safe and sustainable drinking water for the Bahamas. Water Mission is a Charleston-based environmental engineering nonprofit that began after Hurricane Mitch — one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on record — struck Honduras as a Category 5 storm in 1998. The Christian charity now builds water filtration systems in communities affected by natural disasters around the world. The organization has a personal connection to the islands and hopes to begin work as soon as possible.
"This is personal for us," says Mark Baker, director of disaster response at Water Mission. "These are our neighbors, friends, and family."
Bring a small chainsaw to your local Surfrider club. It's a request that makes the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian even more palpable: Bahamians are asking for donations of small chainsaws to cut through debris. Florida Surfrider chapters are working with Friends of The Environment, a nonprofit based in Marsh Harbour on Abaco, and collecting chainsaws and protein bars at a dropoff location in Fort Lauderdale. They recommend cash donations be sent to the HeadKnowles Relief Fund.
Pitch in for the City of Hialeah's donation drive. All City of Hialeah fire stations are currently receiving donations from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Locals are encouraged to drop off water, canned foods, can openers, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, baby formula, diapers, first aid kits, flashlights, batteries, and small generators.
Attend an art-inspired fundraiser in Miami Beach. Miami Beach commission candidate David Richardson is hosting a nonpartisan fundraiser at Painting With a Twist to support the Bahamas. The event runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. this Sunday at 924 71st St. in Miami Beach. The $40 painting fee will go toward Hurricane Dorian relief efforts.
Bring supplies to North Miami's city hall. The City of North Miami is collecting water, nonperishable foods, hygiene items, first aid kits, and other supplies at City Hall. Donations can be made weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Purchase supplies for Coral Gables' donation drive. Coral Gables is collecting hurricane relief supplies at all city fire stations. Organizers are asking for water, canned goods, can openers, mosquito spray, sunscreen, diapers, baby formula, first aid items, flashlights, and batteries.
Bring donations to Miami Beach's fire stations. All four fire department stations in Miami Beach are now drop-off locations for emergency supplies requested by the government of the Bahamas.
Help feed those in need. Feed The Poor is a Coconut Creek-based nonprofit that has already sent its first shipment of supplies to the Bahamas. Canned meats, canned fish, canned milk, and diapers can be brought to their warehouse at 6401 Lyons Road any weekday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monetary donations are also accepted online.
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Check out GoFundMe's centralized hub of verified fundraisers. The crowdfunding website has created a go-to resource of relief efforts that have been verified by staff members with a guarantee that all funds will go to the right place.
Grab a beer at Tarpon River Brewing's benefit concert. In addition to being a donation drop-off point in Broward County, the Fort Lauderdale brewery will also be hosting a Hope 4 Hope Town benefit concert this Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Local musical acts include the Shane Duncan Band, Ashley Reda, and Christopher Ament.
Pick up trash at a beach cleanup for the Bahamas. For every pound of trash picked up from Miami Beach this Sunday, $2 will be donated to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts. Donations of emergency supplies will also be accepted.