Relief efforts for Hurricane Dorian victims in the Bahamas are being mounted in nearly every community around Lake Okeechobee and across South Florida.
Floridians are finding it only natural, not to mention a little heart-wrenching, to take the attitude of “There but for the grace of God go we.” It easily could have been us needing assistance to cope with day-to-day recovery and life after a catastropic hurricane, is what everyone is thinking.
But people in the island chain, some of whose islands either disappeared or are largely underwater for the foreseeable future, can’t use just anything people might have on hand to donate. There are specific needs, and here are some of those: cash, chain saws, cleaning supplies, extension cords, first aid kits, flashlights, gloves, generators, nonperishable food items only, personal hygiene items (including feminine hygiene products), food and other necessities for toddlers, tarps, toiletries, trash bags, water. Clothing items are not suggested at this time.
Here are some of the many drives and drop-off locations already established or being prepared for around Lake O:
• OKEECHOBEE — The Pentecostals of Okeechobee will hold a donation drive this week through Sept. 6. They will be collecting donations for the residents of Lorida. At this time they are still under water and without power. They are collecting food, children’s items, dry dog and cat food, bedding, paper supplies, bottled water, gallons or water, cleaning supplies and medical supplies. Food items include pop-top canned goods, dry cereal, canned meat, peanut butter, dry milk, 100% fruit juice, Gatorade, and pre-packaged snack items.
• CLEWISTON – The Clewiston High School Criminal Justice Department and FFA, along with Clewiston Christian School and its FFA group will be collecting items to support people in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian’s devastation. According to CHS teacher Kristine Petersen (who’s also a city commissioner), they are doing so “to honor and remember the spirit of service given by so many first responders on 9/11.” This drive will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 11 (the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks), from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Tractor Supply parking lot, 975 W. Sugarland Highway, Clewiston 33440. See the “America’s Sweetest Town’s Hurricane Dorian Relief Effort” page on Facebook for more information.
• SOUTH BAY — A location where people can drop off supplies and other items is at Moss Towing & Transportation: 655 U.S. 27 N., South Bay, 33493. The contact person is Deidre Lynn Moss, and they have a trailer ready to be filled and ready to bring it up on Saturday, Sept. 7, if possible! Drop-off hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• STUART — Stephen G. Leighton of Stuart posted on Facebook Monday night, Sept. 2: “We will have a supply drop-off location set up by this weekend for those families affected in the Abacos at the Stuart/Witham Field Airport. These items will be separated for containerization, semi-trailer transport and cargo pods for flights once clearance has been given/approved by both governments.
“We have been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and USAid for additional resources regarding this relief, in addition to contacting cruise lines for assistance. I have been advised the debris field in the local waters is far and wide, and local boaters should NOT journey over in the coming days for safety reasons. There will be a time for this to take place and once docks have been identified for offloading.
“Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard has landed to evaluate the damage and life concerns on many of the islands so a clear mission can be implemented. Items will be channeled through this operation for short- and long-term relief. Individuals who are willing to spend three to four days in the Bahamas being self-sufficient with medical, construction and logistic backgrounds are welcome to volunteer.”
On Sept. 3, Mr. Leighton posted that they have partnered with Operation 300, which set up a dedicated relief fund account to go to victims in the Abacos and particularly outer islands including Green Turtle Cay, Guana Cay, Hopetown, Man-o-War Cay and Elbow Cay. Go to operation300.org online to learn more. Some $5,500 had already been raised as of noon Wednesday, Sept. 4.
• WEST PALM BEACH — Several local radio stations — Hubbard Radio, 97.9 WRMF, New Country 103.1, X-102.3, Party 96.3, Sunny 107.9, 850 WFTLFand ox Sports 640 — are partnering with the American Red Cross in a two-day supply drive to help bring relief to those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. The drive runs Sept. 4-5 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the parking lot at the Hubbard Radio studios located at 701 Northpoint Parkway, off of 45th Street in West Palm Beach.
WPTV-Channel 5, the NBC station in West Palm Beach, has put up a long list of other locations in Palm Beach County where drop-off locations are being set up or already are operating, said Eric Weiss at the TV station. The information is online at wptv.com/helpbahamas.