Oh, Abaco. Beautiful, friendly, carefree Abaco. I’m sure there will still be sunrises and sunsets, but now there will be very little in between. Even the sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are holding horrors — the remnants of homes and dreams and loved ones whose bodies will never be found.
Jerry and I own a vacation cottage on Abaco. By the whims of wind and powers beyond comprehension, our tiny settlement saw little physical damage.
Our neighbors who remained are safe, but cut off by impassible roads. And as is the nature of Bahamians, they are feverishly seeking ways to help their friends, family and neighbors who have lost everything — all as they search for any news of people still unaccounted for.
The connection between Abaco and our South County area is strong. Many of you have second homes in the Bahamas. Maybe you keep a boat there, take your boat across the Gulf Stream to fish, or fly over to vacation when you can.
Marsh Harbour is only 180 miles away, after all, and it’s less than 90 miles to Freeport: closer than Disney World, closer than Key West.
These really are our neighbors who are suffering under conditions we simply can’t fathom. So what can we do to help?
Our friends at Pete’s Pub in Little Harbour have posted the following organizations they’ve vetted (this is especially important in the Bahamas) for relief aid and assistance. I’ve added a couple more I know to be trustworthy.
You may have others you are planning to organize or know about that are already collecting items for relief. Feel free to send information on them to me and I’ll post them on our website.
Once this first critical wave of relief arrives, the most important thing we can all do is not forget Abaco and Grand Bahama. Their economy is based almost exclusively on tourism. So a year from now, or maybe two, plan to book your vacation to this beautiful island nation.
If you have a home or boat there, hire Bahamians to make the repairs, regardless of what other resources you might afford to pull from other places.
The people who live on these islands will need jobs to rebuild their lives. They’ll need our tourism to survive. Don’t forget them — this year, next year and in all the years to come. Help them be #BahamasStrong.
Mary Kate Leming, Editor
You can help
Below is a list of verified and trusted relief organizations compiled by Pete’s Pub in South Abaco.
• Air Unlimited/Florida Paints: www.helptheabacos.com
• Atlantic Aviation: www.atlanticaviation.com
• Atlantic Yacht and Ship: 850 NE Third St., No. 114, Dania Beach, FL 33004
• Global Empowerment: www.globalempowermentmission.org
• Head Knowles: www.oasisbahamas.com/headknowles
• Ed Hinckley is accepting donations at his hanger at 2633 Lantana Road, Hanger 508, Lake Worth Beach, FL 33462
• Neil Hingle, pilot, is accepting donations to fly over: 55 Pine Tree Lane, Jupiter, FL 33469
• Hope Town Volunteer Fire & Rescue: www.htvfr.org