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Help the Bahamas recover through tourism, donations to Pittsburgh-based charity

Stephen Huba
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AP
A man stands on a store’s roof as he works to prepare it for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport on Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.

Want to help the people of the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian? Visit the Caribbean island nation.

Matt Hicks, an Apollo native who has lived in the Bahamas for more than four years, said he agrees with the country’s Ministry of Tourism that, well, tourism is among the best ways to help.

“While the country grieves the devastation Hurricane Dorian brought upon two of the most northern islands, Grand Bahama and The Abacos, there is a silver lining. The majority of the Bahamas, including 14 of the most commonly visited islands, remains unaffected by the storm,” the Ministry of Tourism said on its website. “The warm and friendly people of The Bahamas, along with hotel and travel partners, from Bimini to Nassau and Paradise Island, The Exumas to Inagua, are ready to welcome travelers with open arms.”

For people seeking to make financial contributions directly, Hicks recommended the ONE Bahamas Fund (onebahamasfund.org). It will match donations “dollar for dollar,” supported by a $6 million group pledge from celebrities and corporations.

The Bahamas, an archipelago of more than 700 islands, are used to hurricanes — though nothing like Dorian, Hicks said. The strong Category 5 storm reached the Abacos on Sept. 1 and stalled for two days as it slowly crossed Grand Bahama.

“It made landfall with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts of 220 mph, which ties it for the highest sustained wind landfall on record — the 1935 Labor Day hurricane,” he said.

The storm left tens of thousands of homes and businesses destroyed, according to the Pittsburgh-based Brother’s Brother Foundation. The death toll from Dorian rose to 50 on Tuesday, mostly on Great Abaco Island.

Hicks said the island where he lives, New Providence — which is coterminous with the capital city of Nassau — escaped major damage.

“New Providence experienced the outer bands of the storm and tropical storm-force winds for about 36 hours. There were no lasting issues here, which is nice because most refugees have been coming here since the storm,” he said.

After tourism, Hicks suggested donating to a reputable charity as the best way to help.

Brother’s Brother is accepting donations for its relief efforts in the Bahamas, which include distributing medicines and hospital supplies and equipment. The relief agency is working from a list of necessities provided by the Bahamas’ Public Hospitals Authority.

“We made an offer today, and it should be going out in the next couple of days,” President Ozzy Samad said.

Brother’s Brother is working with two local partners, the Florida-based Food for the Poor and Puerto Rico Rises. The latter is a charity founded after Puerto Rico was devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

“The people there want to help the people in the Bahamas,” Samad said.

Among the medicines Brother’s Brother hopes to distribute are antibiotics and anti-diabetic drugs. The list of needed hospital supplies and equipment includes bedside chairs, bedside lockers, EKG machines, generators, hospital beds and linens, and ventilators.

“We want to make sure that we completely understand the need before we show up,” Samad said.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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