As images of a home ripped apart by Hurricane Dorian flash across their television screens, members of the Bahamian diaspora in Halifax remain hopeful that their country will land on its feet.
The Category 5 storm has killed at least seven people in The Bahamas to date and caused incalculable damage to tens of thousands of homes. But residents of the islands are resilient, say those observing the chaos from abroad.
“No doubt that we will rise, it’s just a matter of trying to ease that transition for everybody and make them feel as comfortable through a very uncomfortable time,” said Matthew Saunders, who hails from Grand Bahama, but has lived in Halifax for more than a decade.
“Now it’s time to get to work, it’s time to rebuild,” added Chaz Garraway, secretary of Dalhousie University’s Caribbean Connection and a native of the capital, Nassau.
The pair are among a handful of Bahamians living in Nova Scotia who are co-ordinating local relief efforts, including donation boxes for non-perishable food, clothing, medicine and other household goods that can be shipped down south.
Collection boxes are scattered throughout Dalhousie University, and drives will be held at Saint Mary’s, Acadia and Saint Francis Xavier in the days to come.
Local businesses are pitching in too: Jamaica Vibes on Spring Garden Road will host a fundraiser on Sept. 8 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., with all proceeds going towards victims of Hurricane Dorian. Splitt Ends Hair Design on South Park Street is also taking public donations.
“The Bahamas is a more economically developed country, but we’re not trained to respond to a crisis like this,” explained barber Kemmy Smith, who moved from Freeport in Grand Bahama to Halifax for school.
“We have a good population in Canada with some of the friendliest people in the world and it’s just good to help paradise right now.”
According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre, Dorian is on the move toward Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec this weekend, as either a Category 1 hurricane or a strong tropical storm.
The centre in Halifax says Dorian may still be a full-fledged hurricane once it enters Canadian waters but is expected to diminish to a tropical storm as it moves though the Atlantic region.
A GoFundMe campaign endorsed by the Halifax diaspora has already raised more than $500,000 for relief in The Bahamas. Anyone interested in supporting relief efforts in the Maritimes is asked to send an email to Dorianreliefhfx@gmail.com.
– With files from The Canadian Press