by Maura Campbell ’22
In the weeks before its landfall, Hurricane Dorian had been predicted to cause large amounts of damage to the Bahamas and areas of the southeastern United States.
Its nature as a slow-moving hurricane created the potential for huge destruction, as it was predicted to remain in certain areas for hours and even days at a time.
A dozen counties in Florida declared mandatory evacuation ahead of the storm, as well as several counties in Georgia and South Carolina.
Although only a small section of the Bahamas had been predicted to be affected by Hurricane Dorian, residents were urged to evacuate their homes and gather in hurricane shelters scattered across the islands.
At the time of its landfall in the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 storm—the highest category hurricane and the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Bahamas—and was expected to produce catastrophic damage. The hurricane, as predicted, moved slowly over the Bahamas and battered the islands for 51 hours.
Since Hurricane Dorian’s landfall on Sunday, September 1, the official death toll has risen to 50 while 25,000 people have been registered as missing.
Approximately 70,000 people have been left homeless on the northern islands of the Bahamas, particularly on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands.
The Bahamian financial services industry has stated that this devastation is a “humanitarian crisis,” and global relief agencies have begun the process of sending aid.
Several hours later, on Sept. 2, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the United States on the Florida coast. By this time, its strength had sharply declined from 185 mph winds to 60 mph winds, changing its classification to a tropical storm.
According to the National Weather Service, major beach erosion occurred at Flagler Beach and Vero Beach, on the eastern coast of Florida. In South Carolina and Georgia, residents continue to deal with flooding and damages caused by Hurricane Dorian.
As the storm moved north, it continued to affect coastlines with problems such as downed trees and downed power lines, as far north as Halifax, Canada.
In the past week, the U.S. State Department has released a statement in response to the destruction in the Bahamas, including the following pledge to provide aid:
“The U.S. government is working in partnership with the Government of The Bahamas, including the National Emergency Management Authority, to deliver emergency supplies to address the immediate needs in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.”
It has also reiterated its goal of “providing humanitarian assistance, search and rescue operations, and other disaster response measures as well as assisting U.S. citizens in the affected areas” in Dorian’s aftermath.
Additionally, The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has sent in its Disaster Assistance Response Team “to coordinate the U.S. response and provide technical support to the National Emergency Management Authority, which is managing the overall relief effort.”
Several interest groups have also pledged to send aid and assist the people affected by Hurricane Dorian in the rebuilding process. Global organizations such as the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Project Hope, Americares, and Habitat for Humanity are accepting donations and volunteers to help provide Bahamians with medical care, clothing, food, housing, and other necessities.
World Central Kitchen has dedicated itsef to providing food to the most affected islands, and has already provided 100,000 meals for people in need after the hurricane.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency has instructions posted on how to donate money directly to the Bahamian government in their recovery efforts. On GoFundMe, there are several verified campaigns raising money for hurricane relief in the Bahamas, the most notable of which is HeadKnowles Hurricane Relief, an organization dedicated to providing disaster relief.
Hurricane Dorian has been a devastating natural disaster for thousands of people in the Bahamas. Relief organizations, donations, volunteer efforts, and global solidarity and work are in full effect towards helping those affected by Dorian.