Up to 1,000 Jewish expats who live in the Bahamas were left picking up the pieces this week as the death toll from Hurricane Dorian continued to rise.
The storm, which hovered over the islands for two days last week while at Category 5 strength, eventually moved on to the east coast of the United States, avoiding Florida and weakening before drenching the Carolinas.
Among the organisations helping in the Bahamas was Israeli humanitarian group IsraAID, B’nai B’rith International and Chabad, which reported that the Jewish community in the capital Nassau had had a lucky escape.
“Nassau was relatively unscathed by Dorian,” said Rabbi Sholom Bluming, a co-director of Chabad of the Bahamas, who was coordinating supplies such as food, drinking water and mosquito nets from large Jewish communities in South Florida.
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The worst-hit area of the Bahamas archipelago was Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, where hundreds of people are still missing, after 185mph winds ripped buildings apart and left the airport under four foot of water.
“Our current focus is providing relief to people stranded in Abaco, getting in touch with residents there, making sure that supplies and aid get to everyone who needs it… being there to help every person in need,” said Bluming.
“It’s been incredible to note the tremendous outpouring of support from Jews around the world. My inbox has been filled with hundreds of emails asking to help in the relief effort.”
As the death toll reached 43, Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said: “We are in the midst of an historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas… The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.”
IsraAID, a humanitarian aid agency, has sent an emergency support team to the Bahamas, telling supporters on Sunday that it was providing Psychological First Aid.
Meanwhile B’nai B’rith began accepting donations to its Disaster Relief Fund to assist those affected by Dorian. Donations will go to assist local recovery and rebuilding teams, the group said in a statement.