Bahamas Tropical Weather

The extensive damage and destruction in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian is seen in Great Abaco, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

Charleston got lucky last week.

Hurricane Dorian regained strength to become a sprawling Category 3 storm just as it made its approach to the South Carolina coast. But the eye stayed far enough off the coast to keep the strongest winds and rain offshore.

Admirable work from local first responders, law enforcement, public officials, volunteers and utility workers helped further minimize any serious problems here.

Those who rightly chose to evacuate made the smart choice, however. Dorian was unpredictable, and the difference of a relatively few miles in its course could have been devastating. We couldn’t have known for sure until it was already too late.

So instead of a draining, months-long recovery, we waited for the power to come back on and were left to clean up tree debris.

But as we spend the next few days returning to life as normal, we ought to keep in mind the people in the Bahamas who won’t have such an easy time recovering.

For the families and loved ones of at least 40 people who died in the storm — and that number is expected to rise dramatically in the coming days as relief efforts continue — the losses extend far beyond homes and personal belongings.

Early estimates suggest that well over 75,000 people in the island nation, or roughly 1 in 5 residents, are in need of basic assistance including shelter, food, water and clothing. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed and essential infrastructure will need to be repaired.

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A number of local, national and international organizations are accepting donations to help people in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian. Seek out options committed to providing direct, immediate relief.

And if you’re so inclined, consider a vacation. Many of the islands that make up the Bahamas were left unharmed by the second-most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. With at least 60% of the nation’s economy related to tourism, visitors can help indirectly fund recovery efforts.

But in the immediate future, the focus must be on repairing as much damage as possible, and building back the places with the worst damage stronger than they were before.

It’s no time to get complacent in Charleston, either. More tropical weather is swirling out in the Atlantic and we are in the peak months of our hurricane season.

For now, we in the Lowcountry can be thankful to have weathered another storm without too much damage. And we can celebrate that luck by extending a generous helping hand to the thousands of people who lost so much to Hurricane Dorian.

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