Bryan Baeumler has one word to describe the people of the Bahamas.
“They’re survivors,” he said.
The star of HGTV Canada’s Island of Bryan says he and his family were “lucky” to escape Hurricane Dorian.
Baeumler was vacationing away from Caerula Mar — the South Andros island beachfront resort he’s restoring for the show — when the hurricane hit.
He’s now back, and says the island has been relatively unaffected by the Category 5 storm that tore through the area.
Other areas weren’t so lucky. Baeumler, who is now back on South Andros, said Grand Bahama and Abaco Island to the north have been devastated.
“Those two islands have completely gone through a blender. And people who had very little have absolutely nothing left.
That devastation prompted Baeumler and his family to launch a fundraising campaign to help people affected by the storm.
The reaction has been overwhelming. In less than two days, the campaign has raised nearly $75,000.
Baeumler said the GoFundMe was the least he could do for the Bahamanian people who have welcomed him into their county.
“They are the first people to help when you need help. That’s one of the reasons we fell in love with the island here — and fell in love with the people more so — and wanted to do something to help them out.”
The Baeumler Family Foundation will also be matching campaign proceeds, with the campaign lasting until Sept. 30.
As for his resort restoration project, Baeumler said he’s still aiming for a Nov. 1 opening.
He said with the massive damage the storm caused in parts of the country, as many as 2,250 hotel rooms have been wiped out, something he said will only further hurt the Bahamas.
“I think it’s incredibly important to continue to push tourism — that is the main provider for the people of the Bahamas,” said Baeumler.
“Not only do they have to rebuild their homes and their island, but they’ve lost a significant portion of revenue there as well. So we’re going to do what we can to grow the business and add employees and support the business as best we can.”
Island of Bryan airs on HGTV Canada and can be viewed online.
NOTE: HGTV Canada and Global News are owned by Corus Entertainment.