Dorian Brings out the Best
By Sarah A. Cart, Member Since 2007
In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Abacos, but in this season of miracles, people keep sharing the best of themselves to assist the Bahamians who lost so much.
Over the past three months, several dozen Ocean Reef Members and friends have generously donated nearly three tons of goods, leaving Chuck Hartz amazed and humbled. “They continue to call and respond” as the situation and needs evolve from week to week.
Hartz has traveled to and from the Abacos with his wife Joy and their children for decades. “I love the people. The Abacos have become a second home.” About 15 years ago, he began transporting extra “stuff” whenever he crossed the Gulf Stream aboard the 63-foot Hartz Desire or his Intrepid Hartz Delight or flew over in his small plane.
So in Dorian’s wake, delivering desperately needed supplies “was a natural thing. But I’m just the messenger – the people of Ocean Reef are the heroes: They’ve come through again and again. Their hearts are wonderful; they see a need and they fill it, and at most, all they ask is to see an occasional photo of the people being helped.”
Communicating via word of mouth, text chains and wish lists, Ocean Reef friends and neighbors donated nearly two tons of goods in October. Additionally, Isabelle Miller, an interior designer with several Ocean Reef clients, spread the word to members of Stuart Yacht Club; shortly, two full trucks pulled up to the Coral Gables marina where Hartz Desire was docked. More supplies came from friends in South Carolina. Everything was placed in temporary storage until the seas were right, then it took a day to fill every square foot of available space on the three-bedroom boat.
That first relief mission was to Abaco’s Moore’s Island, where Dorian wreaked the most havoc and several hundred Bahamians were scraping by with just the clothes on their backs. It included 25 generators, 20,000 MREs, chainsaws, roofing materials, tools, tents, tarps, baby gear, clothes and more.
Pastor Preston Knowles, whom Hartz notes “has proven to be a reliable servant of the people,” had 30 folks form a firemen’s brigade to unload the goods and within an hour everything was ashore. Hartz marvels that “over 50 Americans came together privately to contribute in some way to provide and transport these supplies to the Abaconians,” whom he describes as deeply frustrated that their government’s aid is driven by politics rather than need.
Other trips have followed. Hartz often shares a video of a cab ride showing the total devastation of Marsh Harbour; shortly after a gentleman from Stuart Yacht Club caught the driver’s mention of the need for “ice and water shield,” a waterproof roofing material, ten 50-pound rolls of the polymer arrived to be taken across aboard Hartz Delight as part of a 1,500-pound load that included five generators. A flight with another 500 pounds of goods followed.
Hartz explains Hope Town’s sailing club is now serving as a soup kitchen producing “three meals a day for everyone on the island with little in the way of refrigeration. There are canisters of fresh water on the street and saltwater is used to flush toilets.” Shortly after he mentioned a need for fresh meat to fellow Ocean Reef Chapel board members, a shipment of 11 coolers of frozen beef (200 pounds) arrived from a farm in Michigan.
The Bahamians will be rebuilding for years, but Hartz points out “the longer this goes on, the more important it will be to aid the out-of-the-way islands because the larger population centers are getting all the attention.” He imagines he’ll make the 400+-mile roundtrip regularly for the next couple years, determining what’s best and most needed in the moment, looking for weather windows, fueling here for the trip over, and in Chubb Cay for the return, all the while giving thanks for the support of the Ocean Reef community.