By COLlive reporter
As Hurricane Dorian winds down near North Carolina, it leaves behind unprecedented destruction “as far as the eye can see” in the northern Bahamas.
Thousands of homes, hospitals and businesses are ripped apart, water covering everything in its path, CNN reports.
As of Friday morning, the death toll has risen to at least 30, and officials are bracing for it to climb significantly as the extent of the damage becomes clear.
“Literally hundreds, up to thousands, of people are still missing,” said Joy Jibrilu, director general of the country’s tourism and aviation ministry.
With many people trapped, the U.S. Coast Guard is helping the Bahamas Royal Police rescue people from their homes.
Rabbi Sholom and Sheera Bluming, who co-direct Chabad of the Bahamas in Nassau, the capital, hunkered down for the storm after checking in on community members and began planning for its aftermath as soon as the extent of the destruction became evident.
“We are seeing now the tremendous devastation that Hurricane Dorian did to the Bahamas, and it is heartbreaking,” Sheera Bluming told COLlive. “Thank G-d we are ok as we live in Nassau, which was not hit. But it devastated the Islands that surround us, leaving hundreds without shelter and thousands more without electricity, food and water.”
The Blumings immediately mobilized and are spearheading a global campaign to bring relief and necessary supplies to the victims.
“Being in the unique position that we are in; as we are nearby in Nassau and were spared the hurricane’s wrath, we have been working around the clock to provide as much relief as we can to as many people as we can,” Rabbi Sholom Bluming told COLlive. “Requests for necessities and aid are pouring in and we need more help to be able to meet the increasing demand.”
Bluming has joined in the official government relief effort, rallying the Jewish community to help, and is coordinating a shipment of supplies from South Florida, which Bluming hopes will bring necessities like food, drinking water and mosquito nets to Abaco, which was the hardest hit.
“Part of our duties as good people is being there to help every person in need,” Paul Wynn, who together with his brother, Jeff, runs Goldwynn Hotel and Residences, and is partnering with Chabad in the relief effort, told Chabad.org. “That’s why we feel it’s crucial to partner on this initiative.”
Chabad Centers in South Florida are also partnering in the relief effort, serving as drop-off points for donations and items desperately needed in the devastated areas, from hygiene products and baby items to medical supplies and duct tape.
“It’s been incredible to note the tremendous outpouring of support from Jews around the world,” says Bluming. “I’ve received hundreds of emails asking to help in the relief effort, including from schools in Boston and Toronto, from Brazil, and from Chabad rabbis in small and big communities.”
To donate to the relief effort, visit relief.jewishbahamas.com.