Casualties to surge as Michael Jordan gives $1M in hurricane relief to Bahamas
By Erick Johnson
With the death toll still rising and thousands of residents homeless in the Bahamas, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan pledged $1 million to the victims of Hurricane Dorian on September 9, bringing attention to an international crisis that President Donald Trump has been slow to address.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is setting up an information desk for hurricane relief supplies at its headquarters in Hyde Park. Residents may drop off items there after 9 a.m. Last week, Rainbow PUSH held a hurricane relief drive at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and organizers are hoping for a large turnout for disaster victims in the Bahamas, which was struck by Hurricane Dorian during the Labor Day weekend. The Category 5 storm stalled over the Bahamian islands for 48 hours, causing massive waves at 24 feet with its 185 mph winds. Dorian’s wind gusts peaked at 200 mph before leaving.
It was the worst storm in the history of the Bahamas, leaving 60,000 people without food and clean water and with 13,000 homes destroyed. As of Crusader press time Wednesday, at least 50 people have died, but the numbers are expected to climb as survivors combed through the destruction searching for missing loved ones.
Jordan, who lives in Jupiter, Florida, tweeted his pledge of $1 million in hurricane relief for disaster victims in the Bahamas. He said, “My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and to those who have lost loved ones. As the recovery and relief efforts continue, I will be tracking the situation closely and working to identify non-profit [sic] agencies where the funds will have the most impact. The Bahamian people are strong and resilient, and I hope that my donation will be of help as they work to recover from this catastrophic storm.”
Jordan is one of several wealthy Black Americans who own homes in the Bahamas. Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry also own homes in the Bahamas’ Norwalk community, where damage was minimal compared to the region’s less affluent communities.
Days after Dorian left the Bahamas, Perry took to Facebook and Instagram Tuesday night, saying, “To all the incredible people of the Bahamas who have welcomed me and called me an adoptive son, I want you to know that I am watching closely, and as soon as I can, I will be there to do whatever I can to help you rebuild, stronger and better. You’re not only in my heart and my prayers, you’re in my blood. God bless you. Stay Bahamas strong. The sun will shine again.”
Last week, Bahamians and professional basketball players, Buddy Hield and Jonquel Jones, also pledged to give funds to UNICEF for hurricane relief efforts. Meanwhile, thousands of hurricane survivors are struggling to flee their homeland in a scene eerily similar to Puerto Rico in 2017. That’s when nearly 160,000 residents fled to the United States after the U.S. territory was decimated by Hurricane Maria.
However, Bahamian residents are facing a tougher migration.
On September 9, 119 residents were forced to get off a ferry that was headed to Port Everglades, Florida. Without a valid passport and a valid travel visa, many hurricane survivors remain stuck on the islands, as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials decide whether to suspend visa requirements or grant the survivors Temporary Protection Status, which allows victims of natural disaster to live and work in the U.S. for a set period of time to address the growing crisis.
At a White House press briefing, acting Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan said there has not been any formal grant of temporary protected status, or TPS, for Bahamians affected by Dorian, but it was not something he had ruled out.
In another White House press briefing on the South Lawn before departing for a campaign rally in North Carolina, President Trump said, “We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there.” Trump planned to survey Dorian damage.
“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”
Artists and songwriters, including Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker, will stage a hurricane benefit concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on September 16. Recently on Instagram, former dancehall queen Lady Saw called on the Caribbean music industry to come together to host a benefit concert.
The hurricane relief efforts have yet to bring together some of the biggest names in America’s hip hop music industry for Bahamians, who, for decades, shared similar economic and social struggles as they held a strong bond with Blacks across the world.
U.N. officials said more than 60,000 people will need food. Hurricane officials say the financial devastation could cost billions of dollars and could take the Bahamian islands years to recover.