Love and Life Foundation helping with living arrangements for families.
Just over a month after Hurricane Dorian ripped through the Bahamas, about 600 people are still missing and thousands are in shelters after losing their homes.
Sadly, very little has changed since the storm, and the death toll is expected to rise significantly from 56. There’s a housing crisis as many people don’t have a place to go, nor do they have running water or electricity.
Most people are eating canned food, and shelters are packed with many sleeping on chairs and in church pews.
During a third trip to the island nation, News4Jax visited many of the same areas — places that haven’t been cleaned up, like Marsh Harbour. Debris hasn’t moved and there are fewer resources.
News4Jax saw few government entities in the Bahamas and many nonprofits have pulled out. The media coverage was mostly gone.
But, there are great groups still on the ground, many coming from Northeast Florida. News4Jax accompanied pilot Jimbo Stockton as he flew in vital supplies to the Abacos. He also used his plane to get volunteers to the outlying islands.
There’s also the Florida-based Love and Life Foundation, which has gotten high-end tents called ShiftPods donated. The organization is putting them up on properties so people can live in them as they rebuild.
“It’s transitioned from humanitarian relief, helping medevac people and move medicine and supplies into areas that didn’t have access to infrastructure of basic resources into sustainable relief where we can provide shelter, love, hope to people who have lost absolutely everything,” said Matt Wideman, founder of the Love and Life Foundation.
“What we’re establishing here is a long-term project, so we are going to be working in the Bahamas for the next few years.”
Pastor Peter Watson, with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is remaining optimistic in Marsh Harbour. Most of his congregation is in Nassau living in shelters, but he wants to bring the island back.
“I think Marsh Harbour will return to what it was or better by God’s help,” Watson said. “Almost all the homes are gone, so, Love and Life is providing an opportunity for living arrangements for these families.”
Most survivors from the hardest hit areas went to Nassau to stay with friends or in shelters, but there’s no work for many and there’s no room in schools for the kids. Nonprofits like the Love and Life Foundation are trying to get funding for housing on their home islands so they can start to rebuild.
“Day by day, we’re making a bigger and bigger difference,” Wideman said.