Courtesy of the Caribbean Student Association
Michael McDonald, a senior computer science major and Grand Bahama Island native, could only watch as his home was hit with Hurricane Dorian, the biggest storm since 1935 when the Labor Day Hurricane hit the Atlantic Coast. McDonald was able to contact his family immediately, but his aunt, who lives on the Abacos Islands, couldn’t be reached for five days.
The hurricane hit the house’s location especially hard. McDonald said the destruction was devastating for his aunt, who had lived in that house for most of her life.
“The only thing that was left was a small bit of the foundation,”McDonald said.
On the fifth day, his aunt was able to get in contact with another family member. Apparently, she had left with her grandchildren just before the storm hit.
Stories like McDonald’s as well as her own personal experiences inspired Jade Dodge, a senior sociology major and Blount Towers resident assistant, to contact Douglas Gwynn, director of the Office of Residence Life and Housing, about starting a donation drive on campus for Hurricane Dorian victims.
“Luckily, the hurricane did not hit the island that my family lives on,” Dodge said. “But the island had a lot of flooding.”
The New Providence Island native said she couldn’t communicate with her family for four hours after the storm began but was eventually able to reach them.
Hurricane Dorian claimed over 45 lives when it struck the island of Abaco with winds up to 185 mph according to the U.S. Embassy of the Bahamas. The category 5 storm mainly impacted the Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said approximately 60% of the homes in Abaco were destroyed. On some, only the foundation was left behind.
Dodge, president of the Alpha Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., partnered with other campus organizations including the Beta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Females United to Uplift, Reshape and Educate and the Caribbean Student Association to create relief boxes in all campus housing facilities. The organizations encouraged the Morgan community to donate bottled water, non-perishable food, gently used clothes, toiletries and other essentials. She received assistance from 2019 Morgan graduate Daniel Gibson who works at the Embassy of the Bahamas.
Dodge said every week, a group of volunteers will gather the donations and Gibson will take them to the embassy where officials will transport the items to the Bahamas.
Morgan’s Division of International Affairs is also involved in the relief efforts.
Quimmah Najeeullah, director of the Division of International Affairs, said she received a request from Kevin Banks, vice president of Student Affairs, for a list of students who were citizens of the Bahamas in order to contact them and ask if they needed anything.
Currently, a donation box sits at the International Affairs office for students and faculty.
The Bahamas are faced with frequent hurricanes. So Dodge says even when people are told to evacuate, there are some who don’t comply, thinking it’s just a regular storm.
“Back in the day when we had hurricanes it was almost fun,” Dodge said. “We didn’t have school. They’d just like to shut us in and we’d try to look at the storm outside the windows.”