Local business owner raises thousands of dollars to aid Hurricane Dorian victims
Hurricane Dorian has slowly shifted away from the Bahamas, but people living there are still dealing with strong winds and rising waters.
Owner of Echelon Studio, Lou Lentine and his family visit the Bahamas often and even own a home on the Abaco Islands. While fighting back tears, he described what happened as “devastation in paradise.”
“It's just like Chattanooga, it's your home. It's your second home. Not saying I have more friends there than I do in Chattanooga but it's pretty darn close,” he said. “You never want to see people hurt and nobody deserves anything like this.”
Lentine and his family were planning a trip to paradise, just days before Hurricane Dorian hit.
“It's really scary what's going on over there. I really fear for the people that are there,” Lentine said. “Still today I don't know if our house is there. I have no idea. I know our neighbor's house. Our neighbor is a doctor on the island. His house is gone.”
Lentine now clings to his phone awaiting updates from friends trapped on the island. One of them is an officer.
“He sent me a text and he told me number one it's bad. Really bad. Just total destruction and there are bodies floating,” he recalled. “That's when it really hit home; my gosh this is really bad. People are dying over there.”
It's why Lentine and his wife decided to help. In less than 24 hours, they raised more than $50,0000 to buy supplies for those in Abaco. That includes tarps, food and blankets. Some donors are even offering their planes and boats to help Lentine deliver the supplies.
“We're going to go in. We're going to bring as much supplies as we can possibly get over there. There's no runway. The airport is not there. You know not only do we have to get the stuff, we have to fly over to Nassau and then we have to take a boat. The boat trip is probably going to be an 18-hour boat trip,” he said. ”We have to go very slow. If we hit something, we could sink the boat.”
Lentine and a group of eight friends will head out to Abaco on Thursday. He says it will not be their only trip, but they need help with donations.
“We had someone reach out to us saying hey we would love to give toys to the children. It's like toys are great, but these children need food. They need blankets. They need shelter.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise donations. To donate, click here.