Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR
The Government of Bahamas shares a wish list with materials to help the desert chain provide food and shelter to its residents who are still rolling from Hurricane Dorian. Officials say they need lots of help and supplies – but they also want targeted donations.
"Officials here, for example, do not want to be inundated with cans of green beans when what they really need are telephone poles," NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from Nassau.
They are facing relief and reconstruction work that is likely to last for several years.
"Cash is king. For us to rebuild these communities, we need funds," Barry Rassin, president of Rotary International, tells Beaubien.
Saying that money is the most flexible aid tool, Rassin urges people to give to established charities and hold them accountable.
"Make sure we report back what we got and how we spent it," he says.
The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency has published a page of instructions for anyone wishing to contribute to the Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund.
The Government of Bahamas has also issued an "exigency order" to allow relief supplies to quickly reach a affected area. It shows its greatest needs, from tents and mosquito nets to plumbing fixtures and fittings.
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR
In an update Wednesday, NEMA spokesman Carl Smith said that about 2,500,000 people have been reported missing in the Bahamas. But he added that the list has not yet been crossed against the names of people who have been evacuated or those who are in shelters.
More than 5,500 people have been evacuated to New Providence from Grand Bahama and Abaco, Smith said, citing the help of commercial carriers and private pilots.
Abaco suffered extensive damage to its power supply system; Smith said the Marsh Harbor power plant was completely destroyed, and there is "a 20-mile stretch where all poles are down."
Chef and philanthropist Jose Andres has been in the Bahamas for more than a week and his World Central Kitchen delivered his 100,000th meal on the islands on Tuesday.
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"I came to Marsh Harbor on Tuesday 3rd to bring some meals and water, increase production daily!" Andres sa . "We were safe, we felt safe … when you feed people and they see you comeback, they become your guardians of the angel."
Called the relief work "a massive operation with many moving parts," NEMA added in its information meeting on Tuesday, "People's lives and livelihoods are at stake."
The rush to get help has also caused some problems, as Bahamian officials are confronted with both a widespread disaster and a cramped infrastructure that has sometimes limited its ability to welcome what has been a tremendous humanitarian response.
One of the government's first meetings with aid groups drew nearly 150 representatives from local NGOs, according to NEMA. Recognizing the "frustrations that sometimes arise" during the relief efforts, the agency says it has asked the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to help it flow information between groups.
Here is a summary of other organizations performing this work.
Of course, NPR does not endorse or guarantee any of these groups. And since scam artists often try to make a profit during times of crisis, it's a good idea to do some research on any charity before donating to it.
One place to start is Charity Navigator – which evaluates nonprofits and tracks where their money goes. The group has published a list of high-ranking groups working to respond to Dorian.
Among those working with Andres in the Bahamas is Global Shadow Marine – which uses a large expedition vessel to ferry deliveries and assistance to the Bahamas from Florida. On Wednesday morning, the group said it had just made a day trip from the United States and returned to Freeport with 500,000 pounds of food and water.
Another group supplying supplies is Sol Relief, a St. Petersburg Fla., Non-profit organization that organizes relief flights to assist disaster structured areas. As of late Tuesday, the group said it had just completed its 50th flight between the United States and the Bahamas.
NPR personnel reporting on recovery efforts in the Bahamas say they have seen the Bahamas Red Cross in many places, along with UN agencies, the World Food Program and the Pan American Health Organization or PAHO.
And the World Health International group says it has been able to establish a clean water station at Abaco Primary School. Its volunteers have also worked at Marsh Harbor and Green Turtle Cay.
At the far western tip of Grand Bahama Island, Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbor has declared itself a landing site for support and accepted more than 70 vessels earlier Saturday alone. But the group, which operates a private marina, was forced to close shortly after a video was published online and showed relief material sitting on its dock.
The company says via Facebook, "people stormed the resort and beach and much was taken including drugs, baby formula and two coolers full of insulin that were desperately needed."
That closure lasted for 24 hours when Old Bahama Bay reopened after that the government offered to increase security and police presence at the resort.