Rotary Happenings: Rotarians updated on ongoing storm recovery efforts
Just over a year ago, Hurricane Dorian tore through the Bahamas as a Category 5, the most destructive hurricane to ever hit the area. It was also one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic basin with winds peaking at 185 mph. Damage in the Bahamas was catastrophic due to it stalling over the islands for 24 hours releasing a fury of high winds and heavy rainfall. The storm surge was a terrifying 23 feet. Over 4,500 homes were destroyed and at least 74 direct deaths were recorded. The true death toll is unknown since there are still 245 people as of April.
With all this devastation, the Rotary wheel started to turn, not needing to wait for a call for help. The Grand Bahamas is in the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club’s District 6990, which includes Florida as well as 2018-19 Rotary International President Barry Rassin. His theme for his presidency was “Be The Inspiration,” something he has certainly lived up to. Rassin lives in the Bahamas and updated our club on the recovery in the islands at our recent meeting.
Rassin was proud to be able to share all the recovery efforts that have started in the Bahamas through Rotary and other humanitarian groups, and reminded us that there is still a long way to go. Immediately after the hurricane, Rotarians had a flotilla of boats to transport families from one island to another to meet up with their families. They helped with the registration efforts with evacuation shelters, and all the local Rotary Clubs adopted a shelter to make sure they were managed properly and had needed supplies.
A previous project funded by Rotary International was an Emergency Water System, a system that was created to be proactive rather than reactive after previous hurricanes had cut off the supply of clean water. With the 23-foot storm surge, all the wells were turned to brackish water; the Emergency Water System was the only clean water available. It was open 24 hours a day, manned by Rotaract members. Another global grant by Rotary was the purchase of two portable laundry units, giving people the ability to wash clothes and shower, lifting their spirits just a little bit.
The support for the Bahamas from Rotarians has been phenomenal, even with the long road ahead. Many organizations go to help when there is a need; however, when Rotary comes, we stay until the end. For more information, https://vimeo.com/453505182. To make a donation, visit http://rotarydoriancharity.com/mpk.
In light of COVID-19, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meets on Fridays at 7:30 a.m. via Zoom. To take part, call 239-472-7257. For more information, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary.