Bahamian Native Helps Fellow Bahamians After Hurricane Dorian

by Tenesha Green | WeINSPIRE Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In the early part of 2019, the population of the Bahamas was around 400,000 people according to Vox.com. As of October 8, 2019 the population has now dwindled to 390,503 people according to Worldometer.com. 

Hurricane Dorian ripped through the northern islands of the Bahamas, On September 1, 2019, destroying everything in its path. In place of the beautiful blue sunny beaches of the islands, Abaco and Grand Bahama, is now grey rubble and dirty brown floodwater.

The Bahamas before Hurricane Dorian.  Photo Courtesy of USA Today

The Bahamas before Hurricane Dorian. Photo Courtesy of USA Today

The Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.  Photo Courtesy of ABC News

The Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian. Photo Courtesy of ABC News

Jonathan Burrows was born and raised in New Providence, an island in Nassau, Bahamas. He came to the United States in 2002 to attend college in St. Augustine, Florida and has been living in central Florida ever since. 

Jonathan Burrows.  Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Burrows

Jonathan Burrows. Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Burrows

On September 1, Burrows and his sister were on the phone with one another, watching live Facebook feeds of Dorian’s landfall. Native Bahamians, they were taken by anxiety, fear, and a sense of helplessness. 

“I felt like I was in a glass box looking out and I couldn’t do anything to help,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t just sit here looking at this storm tear apart my country.”

With the support of his job, the YMCA, and his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity,  Inc., Burrows expeditiously began a hurricane relief campaign.

“My first thought was that I need to get toiletries,” he said.

Raising almost $2,000, between FaceBook and GoFundMe campaigns, combined with efforts to collect donated goods, Burrows was able to get toiletries and other supplies to aid with disaster relief.

“We had two vans and a U-Haul filled from top to bottom with donated goods,” said Burrows.

The back of one van with supplies for the Bahamas.  Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Burrows

The back of one van with supplies for the Bahamas. Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Burrows

With ten duffle bags of donated goods ready to help families in need, Burrows flew out to the Bahamas. But nothing could prepare him for the scene he arrived to, he shared, 

“This is a catastrophic event that we were never going to be prepared for.”

Burrows was heartbroken as he went around the country listening to stories of survivors. 

“You [could] see and feel the dark cloud over the island and over the country,” Burrows said. 

There seem to be as much mental damage to the people as physical damage to the land.

“It’s heartbreaking because now if rain comes down people begin to go into a panic,” Burrows said. “If a loud noise suddenly happens then children begin to panic. This is very eye-opening.” 

Burrows noticed that Bahamians are in need for more assistance now than just toiletries.

“I almost came back with a child,” he said. “They were finding children in the arms of their deceased parents.”

“There was no plan for the people who didn’t have family in the U.S.,”  he said. “The next thing I want to do is see what we can do for the families that were displaced and have no other family than their Bahamian one.”

Burrows is still accepting support. He can be reached through email: jnaburrows@gmail.com

“If they want to donate funds they can go to my Facebook or GoFundMe page to support,” he said.

The Bahamas does not have vast resources like the U.S. has, and it will take a while for them to rebuild. Bahamians are uniting as one to make it possible and are grateful for the help received.

“We say thank you for the support,” Burrows said. “We’re still here and it’s going to take two to four years to rebuild those cities, but please don’t forget us.”

The slogan that was coined after Hurricane Dorian hit.  Photo Courtesy of WPTV

The slogan that was coined after Hurricane Dorian hit. Photo Courtesy of WPTV