Relief yacht from Fort Lauderdale arrives in the Bahamas

FREEPORT, BAHAMAS (WSVN) — S.S. Global has arrived in the Bahamas after sailing out of Fort Lauderdale.

Chef Jose Andres filled the yacht with food and supplies from South Florida and other parts of the U.S. to give to the survivors of Hurricane Dorian.

Decked out with a helipad, an amphibious vehicle and a kitchen below deck, Global is the first mega-yacht to make it over to the Abacos islands, Thursday.

The yacht is loaded with over 100 pallets of food, which is enough to feed tens of thousands of people.

No workers were in sight when the vessel pulled into the port.

Andres and a team of a dozen volunteers from Fort Lauderdale made sandwiches and other food before the yacht reaches Freeport later in the afternoon or early evening.

“It is—what an exciting time, and you basically are holding your adrenaline back,” Chef Jason Collis said, “Now, our adrenaline is on full throttle to start cooking.”

7News cameras captured volunteer chefs with World Central Kitchen preparing food to deliver to hurricane survivors.

Val Cheng, one of the organization’s volunteers, works as a chef at Itamae, a restaurant in Miami’s Design District. She called out of work to help prepare food.

“Just trying to keep it groovy, listening to music and getting 500 sandwiches done,” Cheng said. “Blessed and really thankful that we get to do this. We’re vulnerable all the time, so it could’ve been us.”

A helicopter will land on the yacht for the food to be loaded into and flown over to the islands.

Andres is already on the ground in the Bahamas, and the World Central Kitchen has already begun serving thousands of meals to hurricane survivors.

When the vessel arrived in Freeport, two U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agents boarded the ship and said they had lost their homes. They also said they and their families had to get on the roof during the storm and were rescued by boat.

The agents added that the area is traumatized from the storm.

“The motivation that we have to help people in the time of need is the thing that makes us keep going,” volunteer Yamil Lopez said.

A 7News camera crew drove around Freeport to find homes that were devastated by Dorian’s flooding and high winds.

Colette Prescott, her daughter and her husband endured a nightmare during the storm. The rising water kept following them.

“We called for rescue,” Prescott said. “We had to jump through my front window to get out. I had to literally evacuate three times because the next place I went, the water started to come. Then, we hopped on the boat, hopped off the boat, went on the bus, the bus got flooded. We got off again, walked through the waters when a stranger took us in.”

All of the family’s belongings are outside of their home and were ruined by the storm surge that covered most of the homes.

“You can’t fathom someone telling you 26 feet of rain or surges,” survivor Tyler Edwards said. “You can’t fathom that. You can’t prepare.”

Many families climbed onto their roofs to avoid the rising water. Bahamian officials said 30 people died in the storm.

When asked if there are dead that no one knows about yet, Renaldo Hinsey, a survivor, said, “Yes, I do think so. There is still a lot of missing people on the east end — High Rock. There’s still a lot of missing people, yeah.”

At the Grand Bahama International Airport, the entire area was under water. 7News cameras captured the hangers at the airport left mangled by the surge and winds Dorian brought to the island.

Across the street from the airport, the water carried an airplane out of one of the hangers. The airplane could be seen resting next to a palm tree amid some shrubbery.

“This is the worst I have ever seen it,” Prescott said. “This is terrible. This is terrible, yes.”

The yacht will make the job of feeding the survivors easier, but Captain Kostas Andreou said it is not without its challenges since the Category 5 hurricane passed over the islands.

“Big challenge because all the waterways in Abacos, no server yet, and all water banks they moved during the hurricane,” Andreou said. “It’s very difficult to find your way into the little islands.”

Global is co-owned by Tom McManus, a Fort Lauderdale businessman who has special connections to Abaco and wanted to utilize the yacht to help.

“It’s one of the most beautiful islands in the world,” McManus said. “I’m blessed to be so close to it, and our heart is with the people of the Bahamas, and we feel we have to do something here, and this is what we’re trying to do.”

The organization is working on the logistics of the operation, but it looks like they will have to use the helicopters to get the food off the ship and into the town where people are suffering.

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