Abaco Needs Your Help Now More Than Ever

It was the first week of March. I’d been travelling around Abaco, visiting family members and friends, and seeing for myself both the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Dorian and the hard work and monumental efforts being put into rebuilding.  

Treasure Cay, February 2020

Having finally found a contractor and crew to repair Fish Hooks, I decided to return to L.A. for a few weeks. I didn’t even unpack my suitcase when I got back — just left it packed and ready for my GTC return.

And then — like many of you, I’m sure — I found myself in some sort of bizarre, dystopian reality.

Within ten days of my return, all of Los Angeles County was in lockdown. Overnight, we learned a new vocabulary, phrases like “flattening the curve” and “physical distancing.”

Around the same time, the first case of Covid-19 in the Bahamas was detected. Before long, the country closed its borders. Not just to visitors, but to Bahamians as well. I was left stuck in L.A., and our contractor in Florida. 

Not that I object to the measures being taken by the Bahamian government. It’s not easy for Bahamians to turn away tourists, especially after the country’s economy took a brutal blow last September from Hurricane Dorian.  

The Marsh Harbour Waterfront – March 2020

But in light of the fact that this small nation simply doesn’t have the medical capacity to address and treat a widespread outbreak, keeping the virus contained and controlled is the only option.  

Nowhere is this more true than in Abaco and Grand Bahama, both still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Dorian. You know that topsy-turvy, what-on-earth-happened sensation we’re all experiencing? Our family and friends in Abaco have been living with that for more than eight months.

One of a number of tents still housing Abaconians. This photo was taken the last week of February — nearly six months after the hurricane.

The majority don’t yet have running water – so much for frequent handwashing! — or electricity. More than a few are still living in tents.

With so many Abaconians exhausted and run down, and knowing how deadly Covid-19 can be for those with weakened immune systems, an outbreak in Abaco could be catastrophic.

Thankfully, as of this past weekend, no cases of Covid-19 have been detected in Abaco

Surely, I won’t be alone when I say that the past few months have been difficult. Adjusting to the “new normal” has taken time. It took me more than two months to accept that I likely won’t get back to Abaco anytime in the near future. (I finally unpacked my GTC suitcase on Thursday.)

As grateful as I am that Tom and I are healthy and able to be together for all of this, it’s hard knowing that while we have everything we need to ride out this crisis (including lots of toilet paper!), so many of our family and friends don’t.

Covid-19 could not have come along at a worse time for Abaconians. Many who left the island after Dorian are now unable to return to repair their homes. Local business owners who were finally in a position to reopen have suffered yet another setback. And people who haven’t been able to find work in the eight months since Dorian are struggling to afford even food and medications.

Hope Town Canvas was one of just a few local businesses that had reopened after Hurricane Dorian when I visited Elbow Cay in February

Making the situation worse, most of the foreign non-governmental organizations who have so generously assisted Abaco since last September have reduced their on-the-ground presence, or pulled out completely until the Covid-19 crisis is over. It’s understandable, of course. But so unfortunate for those just beginning to see the first rays of light at the end of the post-Dorian tunnel.

Long story short, while so much of the world’s attention is now focused on the coronavirus, folks in Abaco need help more than ever.  

Fortunately, a number of organizations — including those listed below — continue to assist, and I’ll be updating my “How You Can Help Dorian Victims” list in the days ahead. If you know of organizations still on the ground or lending support to Abaconians during the Covid-19 crisis, please drop me a note and I’ll ensure they’re on the list.

In the meantime, please consider donating to:

And of course, don’t forget the various community fundraising vehicles established in the days and weeks after Dorian, including:

With the 2020 hurricane season less than a month away, these organizations and communities are scrambling to rebuild hurricane shelters and repair homes and other vital structures.

I promise to write more in the coming days about Fish Hooks, and about a couple of other projects that have been keeping me busy during lock down.

In the meantime, to everyone who has lost a loved one to Covid-19, Tom and I send our love and deepest condolences.

To everyone reading this, please be safe, keep our friends and family in Abaco in your thoughts, and make a contribution to one of the above-mentioned organizations if you’re able.

A sign of hope and resilience in Hope Town

  9 comments for “Abaco Needs Your Help Now More Than Ever

  1. Linda Bumpers
    May 11, 2020 at 3:42 am

    Great article Amanda. These are difficult times and most especially for the Bahamas. A good reminder to get the check book out..thank you!

  2. John Higgins
    May 11, 2020 at 9:43 am

    Thank you for that heart felt post. My credit card is out! My donation will be to the GTC Foundation again. I should donate to the benefit to all of Abaco but I can’t get my mind around that much devastation & personal trauma so I’ll keep it local. Your island has been a big part of my life, having visited regularly since 1951. I like to think that no other living American can claim to have been on the cay as early as that. Much has changed of course but the soul of the community is as I remember it so long ago. To me, that is extraordinary and a blessing. That first trip was to visit my mother & stepfather, Kitty & Pearce Coady (he was not a nice person sorry to say) over the Christmas holidays when I was seven years old. They were exploring the Abacos by sail boat. They went on to buy some land & open Bluff House. I have come nearly every year since, later on with my children, and now with my grandchildren. I’m happy to say that Green Turtle is as special to all of them as it is to me.

    • May 14, 2020 at 8:09 pm

      Hi, John. Thanks for your note, and thanks for helping any way you can. All of Abaco needs the help, so wherever you’d prefer to lend a hand, know that it will be greatly appreciated. Hope our paths will cross on the cay one day soon.

      A.

  3. Milanne Reg
    May 12, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Well done! Can’t help now but hope to in the future.
    WHOA

  4. Rhonda
    May 13, 2020 at 6:04 am

    Hi Amanda, THANK YOU for posting this. Just wondering are people able to specify that they want the donation to go to Abaco? Or what part of Abaco?

    • May 14, 2020 at 8:07 pm

      Hi, Rhonda. Thanks for your note. To be honest I’m not sure whether the NGOs allow you to pick where your funds go. For someone who wants to contribute to a specific community, they might be better off donating to one of the community-specific orgs.

      A.

  5. gayleupstairs1
    May 17, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Amanda –

    It is WONDERFUL to see you posting here again. It’s been a while! Thanks for this post and the two following it (Treasure Cay – 6 Months Later and your “Friday Mystery Photos”). I have missed any recent / current information you are able to share about Abaco, especially GTC. I also truly appreciate the historical research and results you post and just, in general, have missed you and news, old and new, of Abaco and GTC. THANKS – and to you, Tom and Wrigley – stay safe and stay healthy. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE only take the risk of “going home” to GTC when you are confident you can get cross-country in the US, into Abaco and back out, and home to L.A. without taking unwise measures to do so. I know you are anxious to get back to GTC and get going on repairs/restoration (round two – LOL) of Fish Hooks and I look forward to seeing all 3 of you there again in the future.

    – Gayle

    • May 18, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      Hi, Gayle. Thank you so much for your sweet note. We hope you are doing well and hanging in there through these strange times. Yes, I’m definitely guilty of not having posted very much over the past few months — but the time feels right to forge ahead with the blog and the recovery (with proper precautions, of course.) It will definitely be a while until Tom and I can get back to GTC, but in the meantime, we’ll do what we can Stateside to help our family and friends recover. We would LOVE to be able to see you on the cay soon. Drinks are on us!

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