COCONUT CREEK, Fla. -- Hurricane season is only three months away, and for those still recovering from Hurricane Dorian the pressure to remove debris, rebuild destroyed and damaged homes and businesses and restore power and running water is mounting.
"We are already turning our sights to the 2020 hurricane season," said Susan Larson, who heads the nonprofit Bahamas Strong. "We are going to help our country plan a resilient strategy so we can pull from our experience from Dorian and move our country forward."
On Friday, Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority Director Kay Forbes-Smith and representatives from several non-government agencies gathered at Broward's Food for the Poor headquarters to mark six months since Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas including Abaco and Grand Bahama. A highlight of the recovery: the coordination between private entities and the government to get the country back on its feet, Forbes-Smith said.
"South Florida has been especially good to us, rendering aid and continuing to visit," Forbes-Smith said. "We have a long, long road ahead of us."
The powerful storm, which packed sustained winds of 185 mph when it began moving over the Bahamas Sept. 1, is believed to have killed about 70 people, and left many more missing. The storm also caused more than $3 billion in damage, including the electrical infrastructure. Much of the middle islands are still without power, and a large part of the hurricane-devastated area is still without running water. About 400 people are still living in shelters. Many people are still displaced from their own land and many are still living in tents.
Linda Mackey, the consul general of Bahamas in Miami, said about 200 people who were displaced after the storm are still living in South Florida, while about 200 others have returned to the islands.
In the weeks following Dorian, local business owners and organizations teamed up to send food, water, generators and tarps to the hardest-hit islands.
Food for the Poor, a Christian-based international relief organization, has been coordinating local efforts to help its Bahamian neighbors.
"When Food for the Poor goes into a country we tend to have long-term relationships," said Ed Raine, the organization's president and CEO.
Some of the organizations involved in the effort include HeadKnowles Foundation, Mission Resolve Foundation, Mercy Corps, Holy Cross Hospital, American Red Cross, One Eleuthera Foundation, IDEA Relief, Seacor, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, Entrepreneurs Organization, Young Presidents' Organization and Entrepreneurs Across Borders. Forbes-Smith said coordination has been key to rebuilding in order to avoid "duplicating efforts."