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How You Can Help as Dorian Relief Efforts Begin for Bahamas

Relief efforts by South Floridians to help the Bahama islands hit by Hurricane Dorian are underway across Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Dorian intensified into a Category 5 hurricane over the weekend before making landfall in the Bahamas on Sunday. The National Hurricane Center says wind gusts reached up to 220 mph and "life-threatening" storm surge ranged from 18 to 23 feet in some areas. Dorian's speed began to slow and was at a near standstill as it battered the northern islands.

Heartbreaking videos and photos of decimated Bahamian communities flooded social media, and reports of extensive damage have been reported in Elbow Cay, Man-O-War Cay, and Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands. CNN reports seven people are confirmed dead amid the devastation in the Bahamas, including an 8-year-old boy.

With Dorian now slouching up the Carolina coast, leaving South Florida mostly untouched, relief organizations have moved into high gear with fundraising to help the Bahamas recover.

Here are some ways you can help:

Help out with Hope 4 Hope Town: A group of Broward-based community and business leaders have formed Hope 4 Hope Town, with a GoFundMe campaign for Bahamas relief efforts that has already reached more than $220,000 of its $1 million goal. The group plans three phases of assistance and has secured a fleet of vessels — including boats, cargo planes, helicopters, seaplanes, private charters, and barges up to 300 feet in length — to ferry supplies and volunteers to the islands.

According to a press release, flights carrying in the most urgently needed supplies started Wednesday after several collection stops in Fort Lauderdale. The group's first efforts will target the smallest barrier islands, which organizers say will not be the initial recipients of government aid. A team of volunteers including paramedics, doctors, veterinarians, and engineers will arrive to the sites as soon as they can safely be brought in.

Hope 4 Hope Town has set up four locations across Broward County that will accept donations throughout the week: in Fort Lauderdale: Riverside Market, 608 SW 12th Ave., and Riverside Market South, 3218 SE Sixth St.; in Plantation, Riverside Market Plantation, 6900 Cypress Rd.; and in Dania Beach, Atlantic Yacht, 850 NE Third St., #213.

The group is providing info and updates on Facebook and is asking for volunteers.

Be part of a growing force of givers and volunteers: Global Empowerment Mission has joined with Caldwell Banker Real Estate and other relief groups and community leaders in revving up its search, rescue, and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. The organization's website lists three warehouses in South Florida where donations and volunteers are welcome — one each in Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

The webpage includes link to its donation campaign on PayPal and a list of suggested donations that largely include items related to basic daily living, such as non-perishable foodstuffs, hygiene necessities, and the items and tools that are necessary for the rigorous work of clearing away debris left in the hurricane's aftermath.

Help the World Central Kitchen disaster-relief team feed Bahamians: Celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés, who owns the Bazaar in South Beach, has earned a reputation as the man who feeds affected communities after natural disasters. In 2017, his nonprofit World Central Kitchen fed Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria and provided food to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. The following year, he joined forces with Guy Fieri to bring Thanksgiving dinner to Paradise residents who had lost their homes in California's deadly Camp Fire.

World Central Kitchen's disaster-relief team is now on the ground to feed Bahamians devastated by Hurricane Dorian. There are four kitchens set up in the island nation: two on Grand Bahama, at Castaways Resort & Suites and the Grand Lucayan Resort; one on Great Abaco, at the Abaco Beach Resort; and one in Nassau, at Atlantis Bahamas.

Donations are accepted online.

Give to the Bahamas Red Cross Society: The Bahamas branch of the International Red Cross is requesting help with its Dorian-relief program. Specifically, it's looking for donations of nonperishable goods, water, toiletries, baby products, radios, batteries, candles, bedding, generators, and building supplies.

You can also make a donation online or volunteer your time.

Contribute to the Bahamian-led HeadKnowles emergency funds: HeadKnowles is organizing once again after being recognized by the Government of the Bahamas for their relief efforts after Hurricane Joaquin, which struck the islands as a Category 4 hurricane in 2015. As of Wednesday morning, they've raised over $436,000 on GoFundMe.

Bring safe and sustainable drinking water to the Bahamas: Water Mission is a Charleston-based environmental engineering nonprofit that began after Hurricane Mitch — one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on record — struck Honduras as a Category 5 storm in 1998. The Christian charity now builds water filtration systems in communities affected by natural disasters around the world. The organization has a personal connection to the islands and hopes to begin work as soon as possible.

"This is personal for us," says Mark Baker, director of disaster response at Water Mission. "These are our neighbors, friends, and family."

Charity Navigator has given Water Mission a four-star rating for the last 12 years. Donations can be made online for their Hurricane Dorian efforts.

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