Several New York officials have come together to collect money and non-perishable goods for the victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.
The death toll has risen to at least 50 since the storm hit the island nation on Sept. 1. About 1,300 people are still missing, according to Bahamian officials.
“It just seems like every year an island in the Caribbean is being ravaged by a storm,” said state Assemb. Speaker Carl Heastie, whose paternal grandparents are from the Bahamas.
He has opened up his district office in the Bronx to donations.
“It’s important for us all to step up. I would think if this was any other Caribbean island, New Yorkers would do the same thing,” Heastie added.
Grand Bahama and Abaco islands were hit the hardest during the Category 5 storm. It is the strongest storm to ever make landfall in the country, according to the National Weather Service. The death toll is expected to increase as search and rescue efforts continue.
“The country is torn but not completely broken,” said Larry Cartwright, the consul general of the Bahamas.“This can be and I believe will be a time for each of us to shine the love of Christ into the darkness of the moment.”
Cartwright urged New Yorkers to travel to the other islands that were not devastated by the storm in an effort to stimulate the economy. Others called on the community to step up in any way they can.
“Collectively we will move the needle,” said state Assemb. Al Taylor, whose office helped collect 20,000 bottles of water to help Newark, New Jersey, during their clean water crisis. “I know we can double down and we could do better,” he said.
Taylor is collecting needed items for survivors, while New York state Sen. Brian Benjamin gathers goods at his Harlem office.
Community activists held a prayer for the victims at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building Plaza in Harlem on Thursday afternoon. They said it is vital that New Yorkers lend their support.
“When black people are in crisis it is necessary for us to respond,” said Cordell Cleare, a community activist and one of the organizers of the local relief efforts. “There has been psychological trauma. The fear that a lot of people experienced is unimaginable,” she said.