September 15, 2019

Chabad Coordinating Hurricane Relief Efforts for the Bahamas

Chabad of Nassau Rabbi Sholom Bluming

Days before Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas, Chabad Rabbi Sholom Bluming of Chabad of Nassau, flew to Miami, Fla. He did so to help coordinate relief efforts for the Bahamas that he knew would be needed after the category 5 storm made landfall.

Speaking with the Journal from Miami, Bluming said, “We knew that we’d have to create the relief from Florida, because that’s the only place [relief supplies and personnel] would be. It’s about helping all those in Abaco and the other islands that were really, really hurt.”

While Nassau, where Bluming lives, escaped the storm relatively unscathed, the Abaco islands —   home to approximately 70,000 people — were virtually decimated in the storm. “Ninety percent of the communities there were leveled and people were left homeless,” Bluming said. 

Working with seven different Chabad groups and the official government relief efforts, Bluming has helped mobilize local and international Jews.

“We have seven locations in South Florida that we are using as drop off places,” Bluming said. “People are bringing food, clothing, bug repellant, hygiene products and first aid kits and we have a warehouse consolidating everything.”

 The biggest issue, though, Bluming said, is being able to land a plane in Abaco, “because all the airports are four feet underwater. And yesterday the winds were still too strong to even fly in helicopters.” However, by early morning on Wednesday, Bluming said they had finally managed to send a plane with medical supplies and doctors to the area.

“That’s the most important thing right now,” he said. “We have search and rescue teams; medics; EMTs that we need to get there. There’s a tremendous need on the ground right now.” 

Chabad’s goal, Bluming said, is twofold: “To save as many lives as possible but also to bring hope and uplift as many people as we can. They need a sense of hope and belief that they can recover from this.”

Bluming also hopes to personally head to Abaco as soon as possible “to help people there. That’s the goal. The idea is to be there long term and help people rebuild — not just drop off supplies and leave.” 

He added the outpouring of support from around the world has been overwhelming including from schools in Boston and Toronto, from Sao Paolo, Brazil and from Chabad rabbis in small and big communities.

“We are called upon to create a better world and to be there for each other in times of need, Jew and non-Jew alike,” Bluming said. “At this hour it’s time for Jewish communities around the world to shine that world of kindness and chesed to other people.”

To help contribute to the relief effort visit www.relief.jewishbahamas.com