|Photo: Edward Russell III|
That's a large photo, click on it to see the whole thing. From the reports I'm getting, the headline in that newspaper couldn't be more true. Also from today's Guardian is an article reporting from the island itself. It doesn't sound very good, but Cat Islanders are a hardy lot and I don't doubt they will recover in time. In the short term however, the electricity and phone systems (which were always rudimentary) will be down for months. The massive flooding from the storm surge has fouled wells and ruined crops. The next six months will be difficult to say the least. I'd been planning to head to Cat Island for a vacation next month and in discussing it with my traveling companions, we're still going. Our vacation's been turned into a mission to help dig out and alleviate some misery but the prospect of being able to be of service for a week holds more appeal to me than lounging on a beach ever did. If you've ever been on a cruise through The Bahamas or been to an all-inclusive resort there you'd be surprised to learn that The Bahamas is very much a part of the developing world. Their national economy is completely dependent on tourism and maintaining that cash flow is priority one for the Bahamian government. As international aid starts to arrive in that country, it will be channeled into repairing the landscaping around Sandals in Exuma and the Atlantis on Paradise Island. What doesn't end up in the hands of the big resorts will be fixing the swimming pools of a variety of ministers in Nassau. Places like Cat Island, where there's no real tourism, will be the last in line for help after the first shipments of food and water stop. The only way around that is to give money, supplies and help to people there directly. One of the things I hope to accomplish there in a week and a half is to alleviate some of the hardship of the people of Cat Island. There's an orphanage on Cat, the Old Bight Mission Home. It's just down the road from the house where I stay and it provides a place to live and an education to ten orphaned kids. The husband and wife who run it are living saints. They'll need all sorts of things and I want to be able to lend a hand. The cultural life of Cat Islanders revolves around a handful of churches. It's those churches who will end up feeding everybody until things start to turn around. I want to be able to give them some money to help to do that. So, I am throwing $500 of my own money toward this effort. I'm turning to you guys to help me double that, at least, between now and when I leave on September 6th. I'm not at all used to asking for you to do more than click on the occasional link, but this is pretty important. So if you can help at all I know a whole bunch of people who'll be tremendously grateful. Give it some thought and thanks.
8/28 edited to add:
The Palm Beach Post just added this video to their website. It's an interview with two women who describe what it was like to live through the storm surge on Cat Island last week: