WELLINGTON, Fla. — WPTV has been following the journeys of different Bahamian families since they set foot on us soil, escaping the disaster zones in Hurricane Dorian’s aftermath.
For storm victims living with relatives here in Palm Beach County, it’s an unexpected financial burden for everyone involved.
But on Thursday, we’re getting a firsthand look at some relief thanks to organizations setting up a supply center at the Mall at Wellington Green.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Bahamas After Dorian
It’s some assistance Brian Olander and his family has been looking for all week.
“Our family really needs it,” he said. “They only came over here with nothing.”
He’s helping more than 20 relatives WPTV has been following since they set foot on U.S. soil from a missionary flight on Monday. The group is spread out across five different homes of relatives living in palm beach county and several more are expected soon, bringing the total to nearly 30 members needing support.
“We gotta a whole house full of people,” said relative Vincent Nolan. “It’s hard, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
So the financial strain is heavy on everyone.
“This is a true blessing,” said Olander.
Abaco Island resident Krystle Murray and her three daughters are also picking up supplies to last them for the long haul here.
“Anything that can get us through what we just came through, just to supply us the essentials of what we need,” she said. “We are looking for all of the necessities, the toiletries, the canned goods.”
The three organizations banded together, rented out an empty retail space at the mall, and set up a relief center for families to come and pick up what they need.
“Just trying to start over and not think about what we left behind,” said Murray.
Clothes, shoes, food, toiletries, bedding, school supplies, water — all of it is free to displaced Bahamian families.
“Just coming from being a stranger here, to having everything that we need at our fingertips,” said Murray.
Lexi Savage with the United Way of Palm Beach County said this type of local relief effort is just as important as the ones overseas.
“And that’s where United Way and our partners come in. Where we can support these families that have taken on this additional responsibility feeding families, getting the kids set up in school,” she said.
She’s encouraging all Bahamian families needing assistance to call “2-1-1” on any phone to speak directly to a representative.
That number will get them connected with any food, supply, medical or even schooling needs during their time in Palm Beach County.
“They will refer you to the best possible partner to give you the resources that you need to be comfortable and to get situated,” she said. “As soon as you dial those numbers, you are immediately connected to someone who can help you. They are equipped with lists and all of the wonderful information in the community.”
Murray says as she figures out the next step for her little girls, this generosity from the residents here gives her hope for their future.
“It’s going to take time to adjust, take time to get back in order. But I know with god all things are possible,” she said.
Right now, the Abaco Relief center inside the mall is in dire need of donations like bedding, sheets, pillows, snacks, juices and school supplies for the kids.
Donations will be accepted on the upper level (next to Dillard's across from Fit 2 Run) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday now through early December from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
To volunteer in the Hurricane Dorian Donation and Relief Center, please sign up here: http://bit.ly/32AF1bG
Palletized items are also accepted. You can schedule your drop off by calling Abaco Freight owner, Kimber at (561) 502-2632.
They are also have housing needs for evacuees, with 42 people on a waiting list in desperate need of stateside housing. If you have a guest house, room, or rental, please reach out to the number above.