Everyone wants to help the Bahamas, the outpouring is amazing. Right now its emergency rescue and aid being provided by the United States Coast Guard, and others such as the British Navy, cruise ship companies and many more wonderful groups. Small private vessels are discouraged at this time from going into the disaster areas-- from a logistical and a safety standpoint.
People are desperate, and may not act in civilized manners while in that state; there is violence and in the aftermath of this disaster, the sewage and debris does raise health issues at this stage. Additionally, from our experiences, what is required for supplies at the beginning of a disaster, change as time passes, needs are dynamic. Then the physical cost of transportation is always a challenge, only the correct items are shippable or even usable in the disaster areas. Our Cruising Host in Marathon, Karen Thurman, can certainly talk to the issue of useless items donated during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
From past hurricane disaster efforts, we know the importance of funding for disaster relief. YachtAid Global
(YAG), Eagles Wings
and Samaritan's Purse
are all actively on the ground in the Abacos helping at the current time. All are licensed non-profits, are operated by or utilize volunteers for outreach and have agreements/permission from the Bahamian authorities. YAG has larger power vessels as part of their assistance, they can move items to areas without land or air access. Eagles Wings has a significant supply warehouse in Florida, and planes for delivery. Both groups need or will need access to small vessels for distribution of donations in the future. These two organizations are, at this point, coordinating and working together, per an SSCA member in Palm Beach, FL. They will both offer opportunities for future volunteer support from concerned citizens such as SSCA members.
The impressive work done by Samaritan's Purse (SP) deserves a mention, as SP has a mobile medical hospital (field units deployed and deploying barge(s) with material). Frankly, Samaritan's Purse did wonders in Dominica after Hurricane Maria--SSCA members observed it!
International Rescue Group
(IRG) organizes volunteers with small vessels, and is standing by to assist in coordinating post-Dorian. IRG is looking at putting a fleet together once the situation becomes more feasible for smaller vessels. They are funded at this point for coordination, and will work with the various groups as projects develop. For Hurricane Maria, IRG partnered with SSCA, developing an inventory and volunteer system used by SSCA as part of a 2017 Clean Wake project.
Stay tuned for more details as the situation unfolds and needs are determined and how best to meet them. In the meantime, we suggest you donate to one of the three organizations with links at the top of the page that are already on the ground in the Bahamas working effectively with Bahamian authorities.