STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) — Bahamian Georgia Southern University students met with a local organization Friday to celebrate the progress made in the days since Hurricane Dorian’s devastation.
Students and their parents came together Friday morning at the Bulloch County Emergency Operations Center for the event hosted by Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster (VOAD).
Over the past 90 days, VOAD has worked tirelessly to ensure that the recovering families have what they need to bounce back.
It started with a social media post in early September from students Brittni Swain and Versace Nicolls, pleading for help for their friends and relatives back home in the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas.
When VOAD found out about that need, the organization jumped into action.
“Being the parent of a college student, I guess it’s kind of struck me emotionally harder than it probably would’ve at any other period in my life, but I experienced it from a parent’s perspective,” said VOAD Volunteer Coordinator DeWayne Grice during the meeting Friday.
He and his wife led the project.
The group learned that 38 Bahamian students were living in Statesboro when Dorian devastated their country. Of those 38 students, 29 of their families were significantly impacted by the storm.
At Friday’s gathering, Grice said he knew the Statesboro community would band together to help those families navigating a difficult time.
VOAD and the families looked back on some of the achievements over the past 90 days, including raising over $100,000 dollars from donors and sponsors.
For the families in the Bahamas, VOAD has transported four containers of much-needed supplies down to the ailing island nation.
Some of the parents still recovering back home made the trip to Georgia to watch two of the students graduate over the weekend.
The families say that all the support they have received has been a blessing.
“It’s honestly been overwhelming,” said Zae Moss, who graduates from Georgia Southern on Saturday with her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.
The Bahamian native, who’s finishing up her undergraduate career magna cum laude, says she wasn’t expecting the magnitude of the support they have received.
“We were just reaching out for as much supplies that we could get, like clothing and different toiletries that we could send back home to the families that really needed it,” Moss told News 3. “We weren’t thinking about ourselves at all, so it’s just overwhelming.”
Marquis Nicholls, the father of graduating senior Versace who is still coping with repairs to his home in the Bahamas, says he can’t say “thank you” enough.
VOAD tells News 3 that they’ve raised enough money to send 29 students home to the Bahamas, just in time for Christmas.
They plan to continue offering support for the families into 2020.