Floridians prepared for the worst as they monitored Category 5 Hurricane Dorian parked over the Bahamas around Labor Day. The islands suffered from 185 mph winds and more than 20 feet of storm surges in some areas — leaving hundreds of thousands Bahamians in devastation.
“This could’ve been us,” said Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, in a Tuesday news conference, alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Unfortunately that miracle for us came at the expense of our Bahamian brothers and sisters.”
DeSantis announced how the state is contributing to relief efforts: The water that Florida stockpiled for Dorian is being donated to the Bahamas.
The state is shipping 10 trailer trucks full of water. Florida Power & Light is also contributing nine truckloads of water — for a grand total of more than 500,000 bottles of water heading to Nassau, where the Bahamian government is organizing hurricane relief.
DeSantis also said more than $11 million from individuals and companies is going toward relief in the Bahamas.
Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva is also giving $100,000 for relief on behalf of House Republicans, DeSantis added.
This support comes a day after DeSantis said he would defer to the federal government on visa requirements for Bahamian evacuees. On Monday, he declined to weigh in on requests by some Florida lawmakers from both parties to waive those requirements.
“The idea that it should be the state’s responsibility, if you think that, then you have no idea how our system of government works,” he said. “The idea that I would overstep the State Department is just absurd.”
At Tuesday’s news conference, John Rood, former ambassador to the Bahamas, appointed by President George W. Bush, talked about plans for rebuilding the hardest-hit areas, like Abaco.
Rood said the state will commit funds and work with the organization Mission of Hope International to build 1,000 units of transitional housing in Marsh Harbour.
On Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, Bahamian authorities continue search and rescue efforts. Dorian has left at least 50 people dead and the death toll is expected to rise.