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How You Can Help The Survivors
By Don Causey, Editor Emeritus\
If you travel to fish, you almost certainly know about the disaster that has befallen the residents of Grand Bahama Island and Abaco Island. If you have fished those two low-lying islands, as I have, you may even fancy you understand just how bad things were, and still are, out that way. I entertained that notion myself for a while, having survived Hurricane Andrew back in 1992. What humbled me – and should humble you – are current reports of 1,300 people still missing and presumed dead at this late date. Given the small size of the population on those two islands, that is a stupefying death rate. It’s stupefying in relation to the entire population of The Bahamas, roughly 395,000. If that same percentage of the population of the US was killed in a disaster, that would mean the loss of just over 1 million people! A blow like that can bring a nation to its knees.
Thankfully, The Bahamas is not down for the count. Most of the islands that make up the Bahamas were untouched by Hurricane Dorian. Tourists are arriving via cruise ship. Anglers are enjoying lodge trips. The American Government and ordinary Americans have provided help. The same is true of the fishing travel community. And that is the point of this report: I thought it would be useful to provide readers of this publication some general information on two of the more important fishing community relief efforts I could find out about. I also reached out to Stephen Vletas, who consults for Eleven Angling, a relatively new international fishing company that owns and operates all of its fishing lodges and programs, raising the bar on quality and services in a growing number of places around the world. Vletas also has been involved on his own for many years in the angling travel business in The Bahamas. I am sure there are worthy relief efforts that Stephen and I have not listed here. I apologize ahead of time for any omissions.
Make no mistake: It’s not too late to support those special Bahamian people who have helped so many of us have good times on the water. Keep in mind that livelihoods as well as lives have been lost. Communities have been scattered. Full recovery for many will take years. – Don Causey, Editor Emeritus.
Bonefish Tarpon Trust
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and the Bahamas National Trust have established the Hurricane Dorian Relief and Recovery Fund to benefit fishing guides, lodge staff and others in the Bahamas’ fishing industry who have been impacted by Hurricane Dorian, the worst natural disaster in the nation’s history. “Our success as an organization has been shaped in large part by our experience over the years in Abaco and Grand Bahama,” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie. “We simply wouldn’t be the organization we are today without the Bahamas. This fund acknowledges the importance of our collaboration and friendship with guides, lodge staff, and others who have always been such great stewards of the Bahamas’ natural resources. We will do all we can in partnership with Bahamas National Trust to aid the recovery efforts.” The Hurricane Dorian Relief and Recovery Fund is multi-faceted, providing immediate support to relief efforts, followed by support of long-range recovery, including promoting the recreational fishing industry as guides and lodge staff return to work. Additionally, BTT and BNT will collaborate further on future efforts aimed at also addressing the needs of impacted natural areas. “Fishing guides epitomize key natural resource users of areas impacted by Dorian, including in National Parks,” said Eric Carey, Bahamas National Trust Executive Director. “This effort is aimed at helping to get them back on the flats, with paying clients, and rebuilding their local economies as soon as possible.” Please make a generous contribution today. All contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law. Please contact BTT Director of Development Mark Rehbein with questions. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by phone at 786-618-9479. Click here to make a contribution: www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/.
Yellow Dog Community and Conservation Foundation
The Yellow Dog Community and Conservation Foundation has set up an emergency fund to assist with the natural disaster that has occurred in The Bahamas.
WHAT: The fund seeks to raise money for our Bahamian fly fishing “family” – the guides, lodge employees, staff and, of course, the families that have been devastated by Hurricane Dorian.
WHY: We realize that there will be numerous, large-scale relief and aid efforts that will target the Bahamas in the weeks and months ahead, and that is a good thing. Our goal, however, is to help those in the fly fishing industry – the guides, lodge employees and those that are directly linked to the fly fishing industry on Abaco and Grand Bahama. Lodges can be re-built and insurance can pay out. For the individuals that are affected however – by loss of property, possessions and income – we want to make a direct difference.
WHEN: All funds raised through the YDCCF Hurricane Relief Fund will be distributed directly to those that need help. We plan to deliver funds on both Grand Bahama and Abaco: placing funds directly into the hands of those that need it most by working with our network of lodges and local outfitters. This is the most direct way to ensure that these resources are delivered directly to the people that need the most help.
HOW TO HELP): Visit www.ydccf.org to make a donation of any size. YDCCF is a 501©3 non-profit organization, and all gifts are tax deductible.
Stephen Vletas passes this on: “The company I currently consult for, Eleven Angling, has a high degree of confidence in and has contributed to the following groups. Eleven knows they are doing an amazing job on the ground in the Abacos and Grand Bahama: Head/Knowles Foundation (https://headknowlesbahamas.com/); The Yellow Dog Community and Conservation Foundation (see above); Abaco Lodge’s Hurricane Relief Efforts (https://www.gofundme.com/f/abaco-lodge-hurricane-dorian-relief-efforts); and Island Tyme’s Hurricane Relief Efforts (https://ca.gofundme.com/f/island-tyme-charter-bahama-relief). These four groups are entrenched in the affected communities and are making a meaningful impact on the ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. While thankfully the areas where Eleven operates (namely, Harbour Island, Bahama House, and Andros Island) were spared the fury of Hurricane Dorian, communities on neighboring islands to the north were devastated. Hurricane Dorian has left behind a path of unimaginable destruction on the Abacos and Grand Bahama.
The HeadKnowles relief effort is led by serious people doing serious work to help the people of the Bahamas. Island Tyme is also a worthy, if much smaller, local effort. In terms of our personal effort to help, my wife Kim and I have been in touch with our many friends on Abaco and Grand Bahama. Many of them lost their homes and businesses. Most of those have been evacuated to Nassau and other islands at this point, while a few are in Florida. Right now, Kim and I are doing all we can to help those who had moved to Abaco and Grand Bahama get back to their home islands. The people of Andros are making a particularly good effort to welcome former residents back home. I think that is the most important thing we can do right now to help the people of Grand Bahama and Northern Abaco recover – that is, we need to help them get settled in a place they can live so they can reassess their plans for the future.
Team Rubicon USA
I should note that Cindy Pinder, who along with her husband, are major players in Bahamas fishing, are working tirelessly every day on Abaco to put people’s lives back together. She reports that she has been working with Team Rubicon (https://teamrubiconusa.org/), which is another good option for donations. Team Rubicon mobilizes military veterans to help in relief efforts. Cindy reports this organization has been a direct help to her and many people on Abaco. The best way to reach Cindy Pinder is via Facebook, where she posts daily photos and updates on what the people of Abaco need most. Search for Cindy James Pinder.