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Florida’s Bahamian Community Rallies After Hurricane Dorian

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NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin

Dorian continues its march north, and Florida residents are breathing a sigh of relief– for now. But many Floridians have personal connections to the Bahamas where the Category five hurricane laid waste to whole towns, and authorities are still tallying the damage and trying to find the missing. 

Florida A&M University student Donervin Bastian and State Rep. Shevrin Jones (D, Broward County) join Intersection to talk about their efforts to help family and friends in the Bahamas. 

“My immediate family is ok,” says Bastian, who says they are in part of Freeport, Grand Bahama that was not flooded.

“But they’re still looking for extended family and friends.”

“They are from the Bahamas, and this isn’t their first rodeo with hurricanes, but it intensified pretty quickly,” he says.

“I became fearful for my island after I noticed the 185 mile per hour wind,” he says.

Bastian has started a drive to gather essentials like water and baby formula for the Bahamas.

According to the FAMU Office of International Education and Development, there are 38 Bahamian international students registered at the university. But university officials say there’s a much bigger Bahamian community on campus. The university says it is offering acadamic, financial and psychological support to students who need help, including counseling.

Shevrin Jones, who has family throughout the Bahamas, is helping coordinate statewide relief efforts.

Jones says he’s heartened by support for the Bahamas from both sides of the aisle. He says Bahamians may need some visa assistance if they need to stay with family in the US, while rebuilding on the islands gets underway. But he’s not calling for TPS.

“I don’t think Bahamians are looking for TPS,” he says.

“We’re asking for those families who’ve been displaced, if the federal government can allow them to come here to the US with their families until they can figure out what needs to happen in the Bahamas and how they can get back on their feet.”

In Central Florida, Jones is also working with State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D, Orlando) to help raise money and collect supplies for the Bahamas. 

People who want to help the FAMU relief effort can donate to FAMU Cares-Hurricane Relief Fund Acct #2197 by going to the FAMU Foundation website to donate. University President Larry Robinson said in a statement that the Foundation will hold funds until they decide “the most effective use of those resources.”

Those who want to donate relief supplies in Tallahassee can drop them off at the campus police department, 2400 Wahnish Way.

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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »