Bermudians have rallied in response to calls to send 200 tonnes of goods to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas.
“This could have happened to us,” Juanita Caldwell told The Royal Gazette yesterday.
Ms Caldwell was dropping off $100 worth of supplies in a temporary storage room at the Hamilton Seventh-Day Adventist Centre.
She said: “I can’t imagine what people are going through. I’ve just brought simple things, things for people to clean themselves, to help give them a sense of sanity.”
Ms Caldwell was accompanied by ten-year-old Alec Geekie, who said: “I just like helping people.”
The Saltus year six student pitched in carrying donations with Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, who yesterday called on “every household in Bermuda” to donate.
Tens of thousands are in need, and hundreds feared dead, after the Bahamas this week bore the brunt of Hurricane Dorian, the worst storm in the country’s history.
Donations are still being solicited this weekend at the church centre on King Street, to be shipped on Monday.
David Steede, the pastor, said: “It’s been a steady stream of people. It’s all kinds of Bermudians from all walks of life.
“This is the most expensive country to live in, but people are still willing to give.”
Among donors was Wanda Francis, dropping off a load of toiletries.
“This is just who I am,” Ms Francis said. “If I say I’m a Christian, then when people are in need I just do it.”
Mr Steede said every donation would have to be itemised and packaged before going aboard the Royal Navy ice patrol ship HMS Protector on Front Street.
The ship, said to be visiting on a “courtesy call”, will set south with donations on Monday morning.
Drop-offs, including truckloads of water, drinks and batteries from MarketPlace and Butterfield & Vallis, were being met at the door by a church volunteer who gave only his first name, George.
“Life is given to us free,” he said. “The best we can do is our part to make it easier on the next person.”
The aid came in response to a rallying cry from Mr Caines for essentials from cleaning and building supplies to tarpaulins and non-perishable food.
Collections at the centre resume today between 9.30am and 8pm, and tomorrow between 8am and 4pm.
The aid is expected to reach the Bahamas by next Friday, where it will be distributed with the assistance of the New Providence Community Church.
Dorian tore into the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama on Sunday as a Category 5 storm, lingering almost two days over the low-lying islands.
The International Red Cross fears the storm left 45 per cent of homes severely damaged or destroyed.
Bahamas officials yesterday reported at least 30 deaths, but the final toll is expected to be significantly higher.
Mr Caines told a press conference the HMS Protector could carry up to 200 tonnes of donations, and he hoped to reach that limit.
He added: “We expect every household in Bermuda to bring something to the Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church to donate to the people of the Bahamas.
“This is a challenge that we have for each other and our neighbours. We believe that we can make a difference.”
He urged volunteers to “roll our sleeves up and help our brothers and sisters” by helping pack donations after 8pm today and 8am tomorrow.
Mr Caines said global help would be needed, and the donation drive would be the first of many efforts by the Bermuda Government.
He added: “Bermuda are in to help for the long haul.”
Simone Smith-Bean, a Bahamian-born lawyer, expressed her gratitude to the people of Bermuda for their eagerness to assist after “the most horrific disaster that has ever hit our country”.
She said: “There are 70,000 plus people who need help, so I’m asking all Bermudians, and Bahamians, everybody living within Bermuda to please assist us in helping our brothers and sisters because they need our help.
“Let us do what we do normally and open our hearts, give as much as we can.”
Mrs Smith-Bean listed necessities including first-aid kits, formula, diapers, generators, tents and cots.
She said: “We need brand new sheets, we need brand new towels. We need things to help people live makeshift because many of these persons do not have a house to go to, do not have a shelter to go to, and they are still in the elements.
“Canned goods, meals that are ready-to-eat and battery operated items. Anything that can be used when you are preparing for a hurricane, bring those items.”
Mrs Smith-Bean also called for volunteers willing to help in relief efforts.
She said: “There are a number of people still trapped, there are still a number of people needing rescue, so if you are a man or woman who is ready to get in and rescue please volunteer your time. You will be gone for weeks, but you will be doing great things.”
Those who wish to volunteer in the recovery effort can contact the Bahamian Association of Bermuda at 297-2326 or Ms Smith-Bean on Facebook.
Duane Sands, the Minister of Health in the Bahamas, said: “The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering.”
David Burt, the Premier, met with the Bahamian Association about relief efforts on Thursday.
He said: “Our heartfelt prayers continue to go out to the Bahamas as they come to grips with the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.
“We will work with the Bahamian Association of Bermuda to offer support and ensure our collaborative relief efforts.”
• To view a list of goods that can be sent to the Bahamas, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”
• To donate directly to the Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund, the public can make deposits to BNTB Bank Account #20-006-060-365472-200 or Clarien Bank Account #4010035760. To give to the Red Cross, call 236-8253 or visit their offices at 9 Berry Hill Road, Paget