Hurricane Dorian, the fourth named hurricane of the 2019 season, made landfall in the northwest Bahamas on September 1 and lingered for days. The storm tied the record for the most powerful hurricane to make landfall in the Bahamas, peaking at Category 5 strength, with one-minute sustained winds of 185 mph and generating destructive gusts over 220 mph (355 km/h) along with a storm surge as high as 23 feet.
In addition to unleashing massive flooding across the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian completely destroyed as many as 13,000 homes, wiping out entire neighborhoods, utilities, airport landing strips, a hospital, schools, supermarkets, pharmacies, churches and more.
Survivors of the areas hardest hit — Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco in the northern Bahamas and Grand Bahama — were left without basic resources such as fresh water, food and medical care.
Early reports from the Bahamian government claimed that 2,500 people had been registered as missing. Ongoing problems include debris-covered roads, extensive damage to water distribution systems, and damage to electrical infrastructure.
Tens of thousands of people were left homeless and in need of aid. The latest figures estimate 72 deaths and 282 missing persons. The total damage to the Bahamas is estimated at $3.4 billion (USD).
An immediate cash grant was sent to the Archdiocese of Nassau to assist those affected by the storm. Another cash grant went to Catholic Charities of Miami to support its hurricane response efforts.
Within days of the disaster, Cross Catholic Outreach arranged to send specially-formulated hygiene kits (12 oz shampoo bottle, toothbrush, two 0.85 oz mini toothpastes, comb, 3 oz. soap bar, washcloth, gallon resealable bag) to the worst hit areas.
Between September 2019 and June 2020, Cross Catholic Outreach sent 11 shipments, valued at more than $628,000, to the Archdiocese of Nassau.
Contents included but not limited to:
Cross Catholic Outreach is currently working with the Archdiocese of Nassau to construct an administration building at St. Francis de Sales School, which sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Dorian. The high school and upper primary school were destroyed, while approximately 50% of the St. Francis de Sales Lower Primary School was damaged.
A cash grant provided by Cross Catholic Outreach will be used to construct the St. Francis de Sales Administration building, which will serve as the nucleus of both the primary and high school.
“Some of our most important work happens after the initial relief efforts are over and the media has moved on to other stories. It’s critical to take care of urgent water, food and medical needs, but we can’t forget the other issues the poor face in the weeks and months following a disaster. Homes need to be repaired or constructed. Damaged schools and clinics need help. Many of these areas will have lost almost everything, and the people will need support to get back on their feet again. Our Disaster Relief Fund helps us provide both immediate and long-term assistance.”
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