Shortly after Hurricane Dorian made landfall at Abaco island Sunday afternoon, it was obvious the storm would be one of the most catastrophic the Bahamas had ever experienced. The Category 5 storm's wind gusts reached a terrifying 220 mph, while storm surge plowed the coast as high as 20 feet, submerging whole towns like Marsh Harbour.
Monitoring the Bahamas devastation from Miami was City Commissioner Ken Russell. He tweeted a video from the city's emergency operations center announcing a partnership with two churches - Greater St. Paul AME and Christ Episcopal - in the Little Bahama community of Coconut Grove to collect and deliver relief supplies for the Bahamas. They began receiving donations Monday morning.
#BAHAMASTRONG MIAMI DONATION DROP LOCATIONS STARTING MONDAY MORNING. All @CityofMiamiFire stations as well as Greater St. Paul AME coconut grove & Christ Episcopal Church coconut grove. https://t.co/thT1TY79Q4
— Ken Russell Miami (@kenrussellmiami) September 2, 2019
Russell said all 16 City of Miami fire stations would also receive supplies - everything from water and canned foods to first aid and mosquito spray to diapers and baby formula to small generators. The office of Miami Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a Bahamian-American, is also helping coordinate the effort, which will likely include supply flights into the Bahamas.
"The greater part of the storm is north of us, which give us time to help those who are really in need, which is the Bahamas," Russell said. "We've been really lucky here in South Florida...and so all those supplies that we would be using up over this next week are available to those who really need them."
The City of Miami has built a website to steer donors to drop-off sites: www.miamigov.com/BahamaStrong.
#BahamaStrong was already a social media fixture by Monday morning as Dorian moved slowly over Grand Bahama, the Bahamas' northernmost island, and toward a projected northward path along the Florida coast.
Among other efforts being mounted in South Florida:
The National Association of the Bahamas has set up a relief site: nabmiami.org/donate
United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald launched Operation Helping Hands to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the region. You can donate here: unitedwaymiami.org
The Global Empowerment Mission is accepting donations at its Miami warehouse, 340 NE 59th Terrace, and on its relief website: globalempowermentmission.org/hurricane-dorian
The Miami-Dade Community Emergency Operations Center at 5120 NW 24th Ave is also receiving supplies (or money donations at mthsmile.com). Contact is: 786-877-7826.
The Bahamian Consulate in Miami is heading its own relief effort. One of the coordinators, Miami attorney and Caribbean community activist Marlon Hill, noted South Florida's strong ties to the Bahamas - and that many black South Floridians are descendants of Bahamians who helped build Miami.
"The Bahamas is a very important part of our cultural history and our regional economy," said Hill. "Even though we may have been spared much of the brunt of Hurricane Dorian, our friends and family over there in the Bahamas are going to need our help."
The Bahamian consulate is expected to announce details of its relief plan this week.