Florida was spared the wrath of Hurricane Dorian. The state experienced little damage as the Category 2 storm passed by just offshore the east coast on Sept. 4.

But, The Bahamas are in ruins after the Category 5 storm made landfall twice and stalled over Abaco and Grand Bahama for more than a day. Those who live along the U.S. southwest coast, especially the outer banks of North Carolina, suffered massive power outages and flooding. A lot of people need help.

Dorian was a record-setting storm. It is the strongest hurricane in modern records to hit the northwestern Bahamas. When the eye of Dorian made a second landfall Sunday afternoon on Great Abaco Island near Marsh Harbour, maximum sustained winds were 185 mph, which tied Dorian for the record of the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.

The Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater has been assisting in The Bahamas since Sept. 2 and news reports say they have saved many lives.

Fire engine strike teams from Clearwater, Dunedin, East Lake, Lealman, Largo, Palm Harbor, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs and Treasure Island headed to the east coast in advance of Dorian’s arrival to be ready to assist. Twenty-five of the county’s long-term care facilities opened their doors to sister facilities along the east coast.

And relief is pouring into the hardest hit areas in the Bahamas and the U.S., as organization’s that make helping others their mission get to work.

Volunteer Florida serves as a “connector” between organizations with volunteer needs and individuals who wish to serve. Its website, https://www.volunteerflorida.org/dorian/, has information on ways to volunteer and a list of National Voluntary Organizations in Disaster members that are working in areas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

People who wish to volunteer are urged not to “self-deploy,” but to work with established organizations.

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“Cash is the most flexible and effective form of support,” according to Volunteer Florida. “Before donating or volunteering, confirm that there is a legitimate need. Always connect with established organizations when donating or volunteering.”

For more information, visit https://www.volunteerflorida.org/help-the-bahamas/ or https://volunteer.volunteerflorida.org/serving-during-disasters.

Gov. Rick DeSantis has activated the Florida Disaster Fund. Anyone interested in donating can text DISASTER to 20222 to make a $10 contribution.

Those experienced in disaster relief remind everyone that although immediate help is needed, assistance, especially in The Bahamas will be needed for many months. Volunteers that can help now and in the future are especially needed.

According to early estimates from those who have visited areas hardest hit in the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian has affected about 76,000 people and more than 13,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, which is about 45% of the dwellings on Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Loss of power and sources of clean drinking water, as well as a need to provide shelter, medical services and food to the people are primary concerns, according to the American Red Cross.

Bahamas Red Cross volunteers have been on the ground since day one with pre-positioned relief supplies, including tarps, hygiene items, jerrycans for fuel and water, and hand-crank cell phone chargers. Additional relief supplies are available at an international logistics hub in Panama.

More than 1,900 trained Red Cross responders from all over the country supported relief efforts in hurricane evacuation centers in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

For information on ways to help the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

For those interested in helping people specifically in the Bahamas, write “Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas” in the memo line of a check and mail it to their local Red Cross chapter with the completed the donation form at redcross.org/donate.

The address for the American Red Cross in Pinellas is 818 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Call 727-898-3111.

Salvation Army also has responded to The Bahamas, including the most affected areas of Grand Bahama and Abaco. Primary efforts include providing shelter and clothing for evacuees and those left homeless. Salvation Army says that shelters are all over capacity and flooding is a big issue. Providing food for those in need also is a challenge. To support Salvation Army disaster relief efforts in the Bahamas, please consider making a financial contribution at helpsalvationarmy.org or by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

For information on ways to help other organizations assisting Hurricane Dorian victims in The Bahamas and/or the United States, check out the following from Volunteer Florida’s list of National Voluntary Organizations in Disaster members.

• Operation Blessing — visit ob.org/hurricane-dorian-disaster-relief.

• Americares — visit americares.org/dorianfund

• Adventist Development Relief Agency — visit https://adra.org/.

• All Hands and Hearts — visit https://www.allhandsandhearts.org/programs/hurricane-dorian-relief/.

• Church World Services — visit https://cwsglobal.org/2019hurricanes/ or call 1-800-297-1516.

• Convoy of Hope — https://www.convoyofhope.org/.

• Disaster Relief — https://www.directrelief.org/emergency/hurricane-dorian/.

• Heart to Heart — https://www.hearttoheart.org/

• HOPE worldwide — https://www.hopeww.org/hurricane-dorian-update-stormthreatensthe-us.

• Humanity Road — https://www.humanityroad.org/

• ICNA Relief, Muslims for Humanity — https://www.icnarelief.org/dorian

• Lutheran Disaster Relief — https://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/

• Mennonite Disaster Service — https://mds.mennonite.net/ volunteers - https://mds.volunteermatrix.com/waitlist

• Mercy Corps — https://www.mercycorps.org

• Operation Blessing - https://www.ob.org/hurricane-dorian-diaster-relief/

• Mission to North America Presbyterian Church America — donations and volunteers https://pcamna.org/

• Reach Out Worldwide — https://roww.org/

• Samaritan’s Purse — https://www.samaritanspurse.org/

• Save the Children — https://www.savethechildren.org/

• Shelter Box — https://www.shelterboxusa.org/

• SBP — https://sbpusa.org/

• Southern Baptist Disaster Relief — https://www.namb.net/southern-baptist-disaster-relief/

• Team Rubicon — https://teamrubiconusa.org/

• United Church of Christ — https://www.ucc.org/disaster

• World Renew — https://worldrenew.net/

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.