Destinations

Bahamas devastated by Dorian, as Royal Caribbean commits $1m in hurricane disaster relief

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

At least 20 people have been killed, and as many as 13,000 houses damaged or destroyed, after the category five hurricane brought wind gusts of more than 350 kilometres per hour that decimated the Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands.

“We can expect more deaths to be recorded,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Tuesday, as reported by CNN. “Our priority is search, rescue and recovery.”

The devastation caused by the storm has become clearer with the return of emergency personnel and the media to the islands, as the Red Cross revealed on Twitter, after the storm made landfall in the Bahamas on Sunday.

Residents who desperately need medical evacuations or emergency aid have been dealt a devastating blow, as the only airport on the island of Grand Bahama has been ripped apart by Dorian.

“After two days of trying, we’re finally able to get into the Freeport airport,” CNN‘s Patrick Oppmann said from the scene Wednesday.

“It’s gone. … The level of devastation is actually breathtaking. There are no walls left at the airport. The ceiling has come crashing,” he said adding: “The runway field is now a debris field.”

Kionne L. McGhee, a US Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, shared a video of the Freeport airport on his official Twitter page, which shows it completely submerged by floodwaters during the storm.

The Red Cross estimates that 99 per cent of people on Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama will require some form of emergency assistance.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) revealed this morning that it is joining relief efforts by committing $1 million to Hurricane Dorian disaster relief. The cruise line’s partner, ITM, is also donating an additional $100,000.

“We are loading all kinds of goods onto our ships— generators, water, cleaning supplies, clean sheets, towels, and more—for direct delivery to the Bahamas. The trained employee volunteers we call the GO Team are on their way to assist with relief efforts. And we’re taking special care of coworkers and their families who were affected by the storm,” an RCL spokesperson said in a statement.

To ensure donations go where they can do the most good, RCL said it is collaborating with the Bahamian government, as well as a network of Bahamian charities.

“For more than half a century, we’ve made many friends and many memories. The Bahamas is also home to more than 500 of our colleagues who work at Perfect Day at CocoCay and the Grand Bahama Shipyard,” an RCL spokesperson said.

“So in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, we’re rolling up our sleeves to help our friends, and inviting our guests to help.”

Dorian has since been downgraded to a still life-threatening category 2 storm and has moved toward the United States where it is hitting the Florida coastline.

The US mainland recorded its first death in connection with the hurricane – an 85-year-old man in North Carolina who fell off a ladder while preparing his home for the storm, as reported by the Associated PressDorian was also blamed for one death in Puerto Rico.

The storm is expected to bring flash flooding and storm surges to the coasts of several US states, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, provided an update on the storm by The White House’s official Twitter account.

“Hopefully, we’re going to be lucky,” Trump said of the storm.

Royal Caribbean is matching every dollar of guests and employees’ donations to the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) – the cruise line’s not-for-profit partner –, which will go toward Hurricane Dorian disaster relief.

If you want to contribute, visit https://www.padf.org/hurricane-dorian-celebrity or https://www.padf.org/hurricane-dorian-royal .

Featured image: NASA Observatory/’Hurricane Dorian Pounds the Bahamas’ by Lauren Dauphin

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