South Florida boaters sail to Bahamas to deliver supplies to Dorian victims

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - From Broward County to the Bahamas, boaters from South Florida banded together and hit the high seas to help the island nation devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

There are about 30 privately owned vessels following each other in a flotilla, each carrying critical cargo to the Bahamas. Collectively, they are transporting nearly 100,000 pounds of food, water and other everyday supplies.

“Baby wipes, diapers to bottled water and generators, clothing. Everything that they can’t get,” said Jim, one of the boaters.

Before sunrise on Saturday, boats of various sizes were loaded up with donations.

Instead of waiting for a federal agency or a major company to deliver the potentially life-saving goods, this armada of adventurous fishermen and boaters, led by local businesses like Big Dog Tackle in Pompano Beach, stocked up and headed out on their own.

“We thought we were just raising a little bit to do our part, then all of a sudden, the community came together,” said Trae West with Big Dog Tackle. “It was phenomenal.”

The group’s goal was to deliver the items to the outer islands still struggling for resources.

Abaco and Marsh Harbour were hit hardest by Dorian’s winds, but they’re not the only islands in desperate need of supplies.

So the flotilla set sail for the town of West End, located just west of Freeport.

West End residents said they’ve been struggling in the aftermath of the storm.

“You don’t know how you’re going to make it and how you’re going to eat and how you’re going to drink,” said resident Joy Wilchcomb.

“We still need all the necessities as Abaco does. It’s a mess,” said resident Asteir Dean.

Saturday’s mid-morning delivery run will go further than the distance traveled to make it happen.

“Some people were left with just the clothes on their backs. They literally have nothing,” said Dean. “Could you imagine going to sleep at night with the bare necessities, and you’re waking up the next day, and you literally have nothing?”

South Florida and the Bahamas may be separated by sea, but they are united in healing after the hurricane.

Tarpon River Brewery dished out food and live music to attract a generous crowd in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

College students across South Florida collaborated with GlobalPro Cares and formed Island Relief Group to collect food and other essentials to send to the Bahamas.

“We started the Island Relief Group as a way to help out the Bahamians,” Aaron Antonson, co-founder of the Island Relief Group, said. “I think it’s time for us to give them a hand when they really need it.”

“We are thankful to the people of South Florida,” said Dean.

“Thank you! Thank you, America, thank you,” said Wilchcomb.

“We are grateful. We are grateful for all the help,” said resident Rochelle Gartner. “You guys didn’t have to do it, but yeah, some good people in the world.”

For a list of donation sites in South Florida, click here.

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