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Helping the Bahamas

By Staff | Sep 3, 2019

A local marine business is calling out to the community to help provide goods and supplies to wind and rain ravished Bahamas, which they’ll hand-deliver at the end of the week.

Stokes Marine out of Fort Myers is looking for local boat owners that feel comfortable making the trip to the Bahamas to help deliver supplies, as Hurricane Dorian left miles of broken homes, flooded streets, debris and devastation in his wake over the weekend.

As of now, Stokes has about 12 to 14 vessels on board for the journey, along with its own, and are expecting to head out to the Bahamas Friday and return Sunday.

“We are coordinating with boat owners, and anyone who feels comfortable making the trip would gladly be welcomed,” Austin Peterson, general manager of Stokes Marine said.

Peterson said they are loading up boats with the basics: water, canned food, baby formula, tents and any other basic survival tools to bring to the effected areas.

Early reports and video out of the Bahamas shows completely flooded roads, power lines and trees scattered about and storm surge that has completely washed away any remnants of what used to be.

“We’re assuming there’s nothing over there,” Peterson said.

Stokes is asking anyone who can to donate supplies in their effort to provide even the slightest bit of relief to Bahamians, which endured over 24 hours of Category 5 hurricane winds and rain.

Officials said donations have been generous thus far, and hope to continue to build their stock for the trip.

Lowes has already donated two generators for them to take to the islands.

Peterson said they have no expectations in terms of housing to stay in, and that most will probably be hunkering down in their boat or using tents to camp overnight.

They plan to make land in Port Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island.

Once there, they will hand out supplies on a first-come, first-serve basis, Peterson expects.

Those at Stokes do have a small connection to the islands, as it is a vacation destination for some of those integrated in the business.

“This has nothing to do with Stokes and everything to do with the Bahamas,” Peterson said. “We feel helpless.”

Peterson said he and others at Stokes have friends in the Bahamas they have yet to make contact with.

“We’re not sure if we’ll be able to find our friends or not,” Peterson said. “We’re hoping to have some contact (Tuesday).”

Boaters in the convoy will navigate two ways: from the Port of the Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, or up the Caloosahatchee River, through Lake Okeechobee and out the St. Lucie River down the to Bahamas.

Peterson said whichever route captains choose, they will meet before they make it to the island, as he expects lots of debris in the water which could make for a challenging and potentially lengthy path to shore. Staying together helps mitigate these issues.

Those wanting to help out but do not have a boat, or not one suited to navigate to the Bahamas, Stokes is asking you drop off basic goods to locations around the county that are pitching in and collecting items that will be packed on boats and make the journey.

Locations include:

* Stokes Marine, 15955 Pine Ridge Road, Fort Myers

* Venue Naples, 13240 Tamiami Trail, N., Suite 205, Naples

* Stilwell Enterprises and Restaurant Group, 16876 McGregor Blvd.

* All Out Bail Bonds, 2220 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Fort Myers

* Norman Love Confections, 11380 Lindbergh Blvd., Fort Myers.

There is a GoFundMe account as well for those who wish to make a monitory donation to their efforts.

“This money will be used for supplies and supplies only,” said Peterson.

The campaign has a million dollar goal, and has raised over $18,000 thus far.

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/f/bahamas-dorian-relief.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj