‘I just need to get out’ News 3 speaks with Bahamians seeking relief after Dorian

WSAV Hurricane Central

ABACO ISLANDS, Bahamas (WSAV) — The Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama are still facing devastation after Dorian hit — a category five hurricane that killed at least 45 people with hundreds more missing. Many citizens are pleading to just get off the island. 

“I have a family with me. Okay?” Abacos resident Shawn Smith said. “Once I reach Nassau I’m fine. I just need to get out.”

Savannah Aviation has been collecting donations for the past few weeks and is flying them directly to the islands that need them most. 

The group, which provides aircraft maintenance and flight training, is working with local organizations in the Bahamas who are specifically targeting remote areas with no access to evacuations or other relief. 

Still, Bahamians say they are rebuilding their towns from the ground up and will need a lot of support to do so. Gary and Lynette Cooper have lived in the Abacos their whole lives and lost loved ones to Dorian’s destruction. 

“Ten times worse than what we have ever seen,” Abacos resident Lynette Cooper said. “We have seen Floyd. But this one is nothing, can’t compare Floyd to this one. We have cousins, aunts, uncles that died.”

Letroy Russel is also a lifelong resident of the Abaco Islands and says they’ve never faced the kind of destruction Dorian caused.

Bahamian volunteer Letroy Russel on Hurricane Dorian sitting over the Abacos for days.

“It was all gone,” Russel said. “You say, ‘I’m going home.’ To what? There’s no roof, there’s no water, there’s no power. There’s nothing. I guess that’s why I’m here because we’ve got to do something.” 

Even though everything surrounding him is in ruins, Letroy says volunteering is the right thing to do:

“If you look around everything looks burnt and brown. This was a green, lush, vibrant place. When you think back about that, that’s what inspires me to do what I’m doing right now, so that’s why I’m doing it. Everyone’s in need of help, so it’s the right thing to do right now. Let’s just help one another.”

Bahamian’s recount their experience during Hurrican Dorian. Letroy Russel shares the difficulties his family faced trying to evacuate the Abacos.

Providing Relief

Savannah Aviation teamed up with Missionary Flights International based out of Fort Pierce, Florida to deliver the donations they’ve been collecting over the past few weeks.

CFI Zack Hartley flew a Piper Saratoga to deliver food, water, toilet paper, and more. Zack explains what we could expect to see landing in the Abacos and more about the donation process during a Facebook Live.

Savannah Aviation, which provides aircraft maintenance and flight training, is communicating with people on the ground in the Bahamas to stay up-to-date on what their needs are.

Approximately five percent of the supplies collected by Savannah Aviation. More flights will be transporting donations over the next few weeks.

Savannah Aviation also says that they will be flying anyone who needs to evacuate from the Bahamas. They will transport Abaco residents to Nassau and any U.S. citizens to Florida.

Savannah Aviation is accepting donations until Thursday, September 12 at 5 p.m. Thanks to the overwhelming response for hurricane relief supplies, their storage facility reached max capacity. Savannah Aviation will ensure transportation of the remaining donations they have stored in the facility.

If you would like to help Savannah Aviation help those in need, consider a monetary donation to offset transportation costs. You can donate on their GoFundMe page or contact the United Way and specify donations for Savannah Aviation Hurricane Relief. For questions, contact Joe Rodriguez (757-329-0266).

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