As history would have it, Floridians and Bahamians have become accustomed to facing a lineup of tropical depressions and hurricanes year after year. We’ve lived through them, we’ve faced devastation, and we’ve walked the long, grueling road to recovery.
As Labor Day weekend and the height of hurricane season approached, no one could have prepared for the wrath of Hurricane Dorian. Dorian hit the northernmost Bahamas—the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama—as a deadly category 5 hurricane, where it stalled for two days, pummeling the islands with 200 mph winds and becoming the most powerful Caribbean storm on record to hit the Bahamas.
The world watched helplessly as the outcome unfolded. Extreme storm surge and wind speeds destroyed thousands of homes, flattening communities and leaving 70,000 people homeless, according to officials.
In the aftermath of Dorian’s assault, humanitarian relief efforts exploded. Supply drives, fundraising campaigns, military aid, and civilian convoys sounded-off through every media outlet and social channel, rallying together people who were looking for a way to help. Now that the dust has settled, the reality is—the Bahamas will need a lot of help for a long time in the form of manpower, donations, supplies, and tourism.
Much of the angling community, in Florida and beyond, have long-ventured to the Bahamas to enjoy the pristine waters, incredible fishing, and vibrant culture. It’s incredibly inspiring to see the outpouring of support and generosity from across the outdoor industry, coming together to help our neighbors in need.
If you’re looking to do your part, there are many reputable charities and organizations that are spearheading relief efforts. Here are six relief missions that are backed by people we personally know, trust, and recommend.
1. Abaco Relief Efforts by Oliver White of Abaco Lodge
Abaco Lodge is a world-renowned fly fishing operation tucked inside Great Abaco Island’s Marls region. Lodge owner, conservationist, and world-traveling fly fisherman, Oliver White, immediately launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to bring support to the family, friends, and staff of Abaco Lodge and the community efforts at large.
Much of the angling community and leading brands like YETI and Costa have rallied around Abaco Lodge, helping to raise over $360,000. Premier fishing guides and operations have auctioned off trips to support White’s cause, including legendary Flip Pallot and Nervous Waters’ fly fishing lodges.
White discloses that the funds will not be used to rebuild the lodge, but will be distributed to the lodge’s local staff and other relief efforts. Visit the fundraising page for a full accounting disclosure and follow @AbacoLodge on Facebook and Instagram for updates.
2. Bahamas Relief Cruise by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
The Bahamas Relief Cruise provided the first major supply of aid to Freeport, Bahamas, and provided transportation for over 1,400 documented people out of the disaster zone and to safety in Palm Beach County.
Bahamas Relief Cruise formed out of a grassroots response to the critical and overwhelming need in Grand Bahama and Abaco after the storm and has already raised $500,000. A collection of West Palm Beach restaurant owners, the Everglades Trust, Mission Resolve and a host of local community leaders responded to a call from Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, about his undertaking. The group is offering ways to help by donating, volunteering, or hosting a family that’s been displaced by the storm.
Huge thank you to Kimberly Mitchell, Executive Director of the Everglades Trust, and Rodney Mayo for their tireless efforts in making this possible.
3. The Treasure Coast Abacos Relief Project by Operation 300
Operation 300 is a Florida-based nonprofit that provides mentorship to children of fallen military service members, honors the sacrifice of those who’ve given their lives for freedom, and promotes patriotism and service in their communities.
Although hurricane relief isn’t their primary line of work, taking action for the good of others is. The people at Operation 300 immediately launched the Treasure Coast Abacos Relief Project and within four days of the storm, had already collected and deployed eleven tons of relief supplies to three islands in critical need, with hundreds of tons waiting to be deployed.
While donations and supplies are appreciated, the group has expressed a high demand for volunteers. Follow their Facebook page for immediate updates or complete the volunteer form if you’d like to help out. Thank you to Stephen Leighton for helping spearhead this effort and keeping everyone updated.
4. Stokes Marine Relief Effort
Within one week after the storm, Fort Myers business owner, Brent Stokes, went to work coordinating donation drop-offs from various locations and successfully organizing a flotilla of boats to run supplies to the affected areas.
Together with the local businesses and residents, Stokes Marine acquired enough essential supplies to make several roundtrip deliveries and will continue to coordinate capable boats to assist. They are in contact with recovery teams in the affected areas and are following their lead in terms of timing and specific items needed.
Stokes Marine started a GoFundMe fundraiser and is using one hundred percent of the proceeds to purchase supplies, fund transportation of supplies, and support long-term recovery. They are still accepting specific items and coordinating efforts for volunteers to assist. Check out their fundraising page for a list of specific items needed, updates on their progress, and volunteer opportunities.
Shoutout to Captain Ryan Kane of Southern Instinct Charters and Fort Myers Brewing for taking MRE’s donated by Captains For Clean Water to Port Lucaya, as part of this effort.
5. Anglers for the Bahamas by Bass Pro Shops Founder, Johnny Morris
Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist Johnny Morris announced “Anglers for the Bahamas,” a campaign aimed at uniting the fishing community in support of Bahamas relief efforts. In the first four days, more than 81,000 anglers donated and initial donations are approaching nearly $4 million in support.
Morris made a personal pledge of $1 million and challenged Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s customers to turn that into $2 million by matching all in-store customer donations by $.25 on the dollar. Customers can round up their purchases or make an additional donation at registers inside all Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores across North America. To help achieve the challenge, Morris is also pledging to donate $100 for every Johnny Morris Signature Series rod or reel purchase.
One hundred percent of the donations directly benefit Bahamians through Convoy of Hope, a highly regarded 501(C)(3) not-for-profit charity with emergency responders currently plugged in on the front lines throughout the Bahamas.
6. Allen Exploration Relief Effort by Carl and Gigi Allen
The owners of the famed Bahamian island, Walker’s Cay, Carl and Gigi Allen, are working with their organization, Allen Exploration, and partners to implement a relief effort that will focus primarily on Little Grand Cay, their nearest neighbor.
Donations are being accepted to their GoFundMe fundraiser, and the Allens will match dollar for dollar any contribution up to a total of $500,000. Sources and uses of funds will be posted on their website.
We’d also like to recognize Captains For Clean Water board member, PJ Scheiner, and his family who generously donated their time and private plane to deliver supplies directly to the hardest-hit areas of the Bahamas.
It will take years for the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama to recover and rebuild. They’ll need as much support as we can offer and we encourage everyone to do what you can to help the Bahamas—donate through a cause you trust, volunteer your time and skill, host a family, and help raise awareness through your own community.
As we focus on relief efforts to the impacted areas, it’s important to also remember that there are hundreds of islands in the Bahamas that were not affected by Dorian. These islands are highly dependent on tourism and will need visitors to support their economy.
These islands have provided a place of escape and enjoyment for many of us, and now they need our help. Let’s do what we can.
Photo courtesy of Abaco Lodge.