A group of South Florida fishermen set sail on their boat on the first Friday after Hurricane Dorian made a direct hit on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama as a Category 5 storm.
"As soon as the smoke cleared we were out of here," said Tim Maddock, one of the fishermen.
The slow-moving hurricane made landfall more than a week ago and it was the most powerful storm on record to strike the Bahamas. The storm left many with nothing.
"The Bahamas will never ever be the same," Maddock, who travels back and forth to the Bahamas throughout the year from his home in Pompano Beach, told Sundial producer Alejandra Martinez.
The U.S. Coast Guard has continued to support the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency and the Royal Bahamian Defense Force, who are leading search and rescue efforts in the Bahamas, but there have been some limitations due to the logistics of getting items and personnel in and out and security.
Maddock and his team wanted to waste no time and wanted to help. The group took matters into their own hands and since Dorian struck the islands have made a number of trips on their boats delivering goods and supplies like toothpaste, flip-flops and food to residents of the islands. Maddock joined Sundial to talk about his journey and describe the devastation.
This has been edited lightly for clarity.
WLRN: When did that conversations to go start?
As soon as the smoked cleared we were out of here. We're going to help and I think that went in fast forward. It went from Tuesday, Wednesday talking about it and then we were on our way to Costco, on our way to Lowe's and on our way to Home Depot. This was before all the donations were made. All the contributions were made were now on every corner. And on Friday morning we took off for the first run. The weather was awesome. Thank God. It was a nice crossing and you didn't really know what to expect. We knew we wanted to get this stuff in the right hands. There was talk about the cruise ships going in, but that's a whole process. How do you get stuff from a cruise ship to the Bahamas when the roads are blocked? And there's no transportation means and that's a whole other story. We wanted to get there. We wanted to go to the harbors that we knew, to the docks that we knew, to the people that we knew and physically give the stuff to them.
And you made more trips?
That's what we did. On Friday we saw a couple boats coming and going across. On Friday we pretty much dropped off and turned around and came home. Didn't really get on land much at all just on the seawall, in the dock to unload, shook everybody's hands who was extremely grateful. And then on Saturday we met with the same people and they told us how much of a hit the stuff (relief items) was that they got out. You have the flip-flops. We went to Wal-Mart and bought 150 pairs of flip-flops and handed them out. You know it's everything washed away. They got no shoes and are walking around with all the debris and everything. So it was all this stuff like that we know got to the right people was a big hit.
And we were getting texts all Friday night from these guys because these people couldn't get any further than this because the roads were damaged and had debris blocking the roads. By Saturday they must've cleared it up a little bit because they were telling us they could get further in and get stuff to more people. We were as confident as you can get that it was getting to the right people.