FREEPORT, Bahamas (WSVN) — A celebrity chef has shipped in some much-needed hurricane help to the Bahamas, supplying volunteers with the cooking supplies they needed to serve survivors of Hurricane Dorian.
The World Central Kitchen chefs started setting up their huge paella burners in Freeport Friday, but they needed propane to actually cook.
“It was right around here, and we asked for it, and they actually donated all of this,” Val Chang, a volunteer, said.
Once they got the gas, they were in business.
They added fresh ingredients to the giant pans, and the number of chefs started growing as locals showed up to help.
“There’s a lot of guys around here who do construction, and they’re gonna do the construction stuff,” Tim Tibbits, another volunteer and restaurant owner, said. “We had guys rescuing people through the storm because they are boat captains. That’s what they do. For us, we own a restaurant, and so, we want to be involved.”
Tibbits’s Freeport restaurant is damaged and has no power, so he decided to help out.
Same thing with Jasmine Roxbury, who owns a catering company on the island.
“It is a good feeling, feeling you have a purpose, serving your purpose and taking care of people in your country, you know? Making sure everybody’s taken care of and eating, you know?” Roxbury said. “It’s a good feeling despite the disaster.”
After the paella cooked for about an hour and a half, the crew packaged it up for delivery to dozens of distribution sites in the hardest hit neighborhoods.
The food was cooked with love and fresh ingredients so that people who are suffering can enjoy a good meal.
“It feels great, actually, to finally have a bit of a purpose,” Becca Tibbits, another volunteer, said. “We were sitting around earlier today, kind of wondering what to do. Everyone wants to help but doesn’t really know what to do, so at least now we’re here and have instructions and a purpose, and it feels a lot better.”
While the chefs were cooking, 7News was taking video and posting it on social media. 7News then received a direct message from a father in Freeport who said he and his children were running out of food, so 7News told them to come to the port.
Maxwell Higgs was waiting for the 7News crew at the port’s entry gate.
He was with his son and daughter and was relieved to have the food from World Central Kitchen.
“This is a beef and vegetable paella,” Yamil Lopez, a volunteer, told Higgs.
Because there is no power on the island, grocery stores are closed, so Higgs was running low on essentials.
“The help is OK,” Higgs said. “Everybody would like to have a little bit of help every now and then after that massive, devastating storm.”
For Lopez, he said he knows how Higgs feels because he’s been in the same situation.
“Because I passed through the same thing in Puerto Rico in Maria, and to be able to help the same way that people help me, it’s just very fine. It’s the best thing you can feel.”
The volunteers are working to secure a kitchen inside a Freeport hotel. They said if they can have a normal workspace and not have to work outside, they can provide even more meals to people who desperately need them.
Celebrity Chef Jose Andres, who has been overseeing the operation, has not been in Freeport, but he has been in Nassau making daily trips to Abaco to bring food there.
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