It has now been a little over two weeks since Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas and ravaged through two of the archipelago’s northwestern islands and countries all over the world have pledged their support in the days following the storm’s massive destruction.
Here in Kamloops, members of the TRUSU Caribbean Student Club (CSC) are also in the process of organizing their own relief efforts here on campus.
On September 1st, the Category 5 storm, packing heavy rainfall, severe storm surge and sustained winds of over 180 miles per hour, left catastrophic damage in Abaco and Grand Bahama.
As the days rolled on and the extent of the devastation was finally revealed, it became clear just how much help would be needed.
Reagan Wilkinson, a Bahamian student in her second year at TRU told The Omega nobody expected the storm to be as “huge” as it turned out to be.
“I came back a few days early from visiting my family just because my parents wanted me to be here on time to start school,” she said.
“If I had stayed, then they thought the hurricane might have been like a minor inconvenience with me travelling back to Canada.”
Still, when Wilkinson arrived in Kamloops on Wednesday night, she said she received a call from her mother on Friday who informed her of the storm’s intensification.
“She was like ‘It’s really bad, it’s gotten really bad. We’re getting a lot of flooding, Abaco is basically destroyed and Freeport, (Grand Bahama) is next’. Everyone was just like very, very worried.”
A huge portion of that worry was due to the fact that her uncle and cousins were in Grand Bahama and she had an aunt who had just moved to Abaco for her job.
This meant that Reagan had family on both of the islands that were directly impacted by Hurricane Dorian’s wrath.
“They were both missing for a couple of days but they were both found eventually,” she said.
“I know that my uncle was trapped in the attic with his daughter and his grandson and they were there for like 14-18 hours with the water rising up in the attic but (luckily) they were rescued by the US Coast Guard.”
Wilkinson said while she was grateful that her family had been accounted for, she still felt for the others who had not only lost their homes and other material possessions, but their loved ones as well.
She said this inspired her to begin organizing relief efforts with the TRUSU Caribbean Student Club (CSC).
“I feel like all of us -even if we weren’t’ touched personally- had family members on the outer islands and just seeing the complete devastation that the hurricane brought gave us a sense of National pride. It bonded us together and just made us want to do something for our country.”
Gevante Dean, the president of the CSC, is also from the Bahamas.
She said the club is eager to help out where they can because it feels selfish to just “sit there” and pretend like there’s nothing they can do when so many of their citizens are suffering.
“At first I didn’t know it was as serious as people made it out to be but when I saw the videos circulating on social media, my heart broke,” Dean told The Omega.
Dean said she became even more distraught when she discovered that other Bahamian TRU students and alumni were directly affected by the hurricane.
“I’m so happy and grateful that Reagan is leading the drive and getting donations and assistance from the people of Kamloops and TRU.”
“The Bahamas needs it. Abaco and Grand Bahama need it. They truly, truly, do. It’s so devastating over there. From little babies to adults, to grandpas to grandmas, everybody needs something.”
The CSC club is seeking donations of basic necessities like clothes, shoes and sanitary items.
While the group is currently organizing a drop off location, persons interested in helping can contact them on their Facebook Page, TRUSU Caribbean Student Club.
“Just everyday things that a lot of us take for granted these people lost,” Wilkinson stated. “So we want to just sort of give back in that way and help them in any way that we can.