Having lived in The Bahamas for 10 years, Hope Grant has a lot of friends in the cluster of islands which are just half-hour by plane from South Florida. Three weeks before sections of the country was decimated by Hurricane Dorian, she was in Freeport visiting friends.
Grant is secretary/treasurer of the Godfrey Stewart High School Alumni Association (GSHSAA), which operates the FloBah (FloridaBahamas) organisation in South Florida. With 45 persons killed, and thousands left homeless by the Category 5 hurricane, they moved swiftly to assist.
“It’s almost incumbent on us to do something. We have classmates and very close friends there”—Devon Dobson, President of the Godfrey Stewart High School Alumni Association
“The Bahamas is very close to home for me, I taught there for 10 years. I have students there who are doctors now, and we have past students of Godfrey Stewart there; one of them, she has lost everything,” said Grant.
Devon Dobson, president of the GSHSAA, said given the close proximity of The Bahamas to South Florida, it is only natural they play their part in the recovery effort.
“It’s almost incumbent on us to do something. We have classmates and very close friends there,” he said.
The FloBah/GSHSAA have assembled a cache of relief items (medical supplies, canned food and water) which will be distributed through Grant and the Rotary Club of Freeport to affected citizens on September 14.
They have also set a target of US$2000 which will also be disbursed with the assistance of the Rotary.
“We’ve raised $170 so far but there are some pledges from persons and organisations, so we’re getting there,” Dobson disclosed.
Formed five years, the GSHSAA stages three fundraising events annually to assist their alma mater which is located in Westmoreland. One is a cookout in Freeport by Rohan Kerr, one of their members who owns a restaurant there.
The initiatives help fund Godfrey Stewart High School’s breakfast programme and sponsor a student for the school term.
Freeport, located in the Grand Bahama area of The Bahamas and Abaco Island, found in the northern region of the country, suffered the most damage from Dorian’s destructive gales which hit on September 2 and 3.
A team of leaders from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) including chairman and St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet travelled to the country’s capital Nassau, on September 5 to assess the damage.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness says a 120-member team from the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) of the Jamaica Defense Force will be deployed to affected areas for 30 days to assist in recovery operations.