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Hurricane relief: Give, but give wisely

September 11, 2019
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

As a weakened but still powerful Hurricane Dorian made its sixth landfall, in Nova Scotia this weekend, those on the Abaco and Grand Bahama islands are dealing with a rising death toll and property damage estimated in the billions.

The then-Category 5 storm made landfall over the islands last Sunday with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour and even higher gusts. The record-breaking hurricane then lingered for two days, dumping 24 inches of rain in addition to the storm surge.

Damage from winds and resulting flood waters has been described as "catastrophic."

... "nearly half the homes in Abaco and Grand Bahama, which have 70,000 residents," were destroyed or severely damaged," reports from the Associated Press state, adding that property losses alone - not including infrastructure or vehicles - "could reach $7 billion."

In terms of intensity, Dorian may nudge Hurricane Wilma out of weather.com's No. 1 position as the strongest, most intense Atlantic storm ever.

Wilma, with sustained winds of 175 mph also hit Category 5 status before it downgraded to a Category 4 as it made landfall over the island of Cozumel on Oct. 21, 2005.

Its damage toll included more than $29 billion in Florida alone after Wilma took a hard swing right and made landfall again near Cape Romano before blowing across the lower tip of the state on Oct. 24.

Unfortunately, with Hurricane Irma still fresh in our minds and the blue-tarped ghost of Hurricane Charley still a flapping nightmare, Southwest Floridians know what havoc a hurricane can wrought. That makes it almost automatic that we reach out to do our part for those in the Bahamas and, if need be, the Carolinas.

What type of donations are urgently needed?

Cash, always, to a recognized organization.

For aid to the Bahamas, one official effort already has been organized via a partnership between the Grand Bahama Port Authority and a long-time U.S. philanthropic organization, the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. Donations, which are tax deductible, may be made at gbdisasterrelief.org/ or coastalcommunityfoundation.org/how-to-help-the-bahamas-recover-from-hurricane-dorian/ .

Other efforts include the Bahamas Red Cross, which is accepting donations at bahamasredcross.org/donate/ and the Miami-based National Association of The Bahamas, nabmiami.org/donate/ .

Those who wish to contribute supplies can do so locally.

Stokes Marine in Fort Myers is accepting supplies to bring to the Bahamas via a flotilla of private vessels. There are multiple dropoff locations including five in Fort Myers - Stokes Marine, 15955 Pine Ridge Road; Stilwell Enterprises and Restaurant Group, 16876 McGregor Blvd.; All Out Bail Bonds, 2220 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Norman Love Confections, 11380 Lindbergh Blvd. -and the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, 2450 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach.

The Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association, which is the National Association of Realtors' Ambassador Association to the Bahamas, also is collecting goods. Donations for distribution through HeadKnowles, a Bahamian nonprofit group, may be dropped off at any of RPCRA's three offices in Lee County: 2840 Winkler Ave., Fort Myers; 17640 South Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers; or 918 SE 46th Lane, Cape Coral.

Those who choose to donate goods instead of money are urged by the Bahamian government to choose from among those included under its post-Hurricane Dorian exigency order. Items on the approved list include: Tents; Cots - adult size; Hygiene kits (diapers, baby wipes, sanitary napkins, deodorant, toothpaste, soap, baby formula); Potable/purified water; Non-perishable food items; Water bladders; Water containers; First aid items (sterile bandages/gauze, tape); Portable generators (15 kw to 25 kw); Chainsaws; Plastic tarpaulin; Debris removal tools like shovels, rakes, axes and wheelbarrows; Portable single- and double-burner stoves; Portable outdoor lamps/lights; Water purification kits; Flashlights; Blankets; Insect repellents; Portable radios; Batteries; Portable potties; and Cleaning supplies/disinfectants such as bleach, brooms, mops, household cleaning products and garbage bags.

One thing to keep in mind: Not everyone is good hearted or altruistic. With every disaster come the scammers and the thieves.

State and federal officials again urge donors to temper generosity with caution to better assure that donated money and goods reach those for whom they are intended.

Donations to recognized relief agencies only, or to known and vetted local efforts, is the strongly suggested choice.

Would-be donors also can check out a charity by visiting a watchdog site such as the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.

State Attorney General Ashley Moody has provided a comprehensive list of tips, including what to watch for when making donations via crowdsourcing sites.

Be generous if you wish, but be careful.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Dorian, both here and in the Bahamas.

May the efforts of those reaching out help make recovery as swift as possible.

- Observer editorial

 
 

 

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