Hurricane Dorian and The Bahamas – The Time for Giving is Now
by Charles R. Tutwiler on 9/9/2019
The unimaginable destruction of property and loss of life on Grand Bahama Island and the Marsh Harbor community is heart- wrenching to say the least. I have seen a lot of the destruction and the human misery that follows in the aftermath of hurricanes and other disasters in my 45-year career as an insurance professional and public adjuster, but the videos and now live reporting coming out of the Bahamas is simply unprecedented.
Yes, hurricanes can be bad. Who can forget Hurricane Andrew or Hurricane Katrina? But as destructive as they were, this Cat 5 monster that struck in a relatively small part of the western hemisphere is simply unmatched. Even Hurricane Irma’s winds of 183 mph sustained, gusting to over 200 mph that destroyed homes, commercial buildings, and world class resorts, in September 2017 seems to pale considering what happened with the fury of Hurricane Dorian.
As a brief comparison, Hurricane Irma was a fast-moving storm which somewhat limited the destruction and misery on an island that is part Dutch and part French (St. Maarten/St. Martin) as well as the other surrounding islands. But make no mistake about it, my friends in St. Maarten are quick to remind me that Hurricane Irma was not a Cat 5 storm, but something much greater! Thankfully St. Maarten was for the most part spared the added misery of widespread flooding.
Unfortunately for the folks in the northern Bahama island chain, Hurricane Dorian came to almost a total stop and Cat 5 plus winds plummeted these communities for over 36 hours. Making it worse, was the geographic low land elevation of the affected islands that resulted in catastrophic flooding pushed by the hurricane force winds.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in the Bahamas, especially Marsh Harbor due to its world class fishing and boating venues. In my opinion, it has some of the most beautiful and picturesque vistas that are second to none.
Hope Town is my favorite place in the Abacos with its quaint island cottages painted in colors recognized the world over as originating from the Bahamas, its harbor, and the friendly welcoming people. I did see a short video that showed Hope Town with its distinctive light house and some of the buildings. While severely damaged, it looked like with major reconstruction efforts, Hope Town may someday be restored to its former beauty.
Other parts of Marsh Harbor did not appear to be salvageable with some exceptions. One prospective client has advised us that while his resort is damaged, it fared better than most and with security in place, he may be able to house some first responders in the coming days and weeks.
So, how can we help? The news and web is scattered with lists of organizations that are in the emergency response recovery space, some with excellent track records, others have been reported that they use a lot of donations to fund salaries and administrative costs and some on the web are just pure scams. If you or your organization are planning on giving, please vet the organization out to make sure you are comfortable with their operations and track record for getting the most aid to the people who need it.
Tutwiler & Associates Public Adjusters and staff are going with Samaritan’s Purse, a well regarded organization headed up by Franklin Graham (the son of the late Billy Graham) out of North Carolina who comes to the assistance of communities all over the world. Why these folks? Well, their reputation precedes them not only from people we know personally, but from reports on the amount of care and aid that goes to those in need versus salaries and overhead costs.
On a personal note, I remember a young lady in St. Maarten telling me how much it meant to her and her family to have gotten aid quickly from Mr. Graham’s organization. I have already seen a plane loaded with supplies in the Bahamas with Samaritan’s Purse name on it, so they are there on the ground and we are pleased to help via this organization.
Other news coming out of the Caribbean today reported on the international effort from the Dutch, German, and French military staging and provisioning in St. Maarten to load supplies on ships and planes as well as these countries military troops for the sea and air voyage north to the Bahamas.
Finally, a special shout out to the United States Coast Guard. Truly the first responders, conducting flight operations in what I am sure were very difficult flying conditions to evacuate the critically injured. Well done USCG! I am sure the Bahamian people will never forget the sight of those beautiful orange and white helicopters coming to their rescue.
Regardless of who you choose, please give to help these people.