The morning of Oct. 6 brought another wave of Hurricane Dorian relief deploying from the lower Florida Keys to the Bahamas.
Volunteers on a Stock Island dock loaded 4,787 pounds of cargo, including 35 bicycles, miscellaneous tools, fishing gear, food for people and pets, clothing, water and other supplies onto the 45-foot Bombay sailing sloop Madre Maria for the first in a planned series of missions by sea orchestrated by the Conch Republic Navy – a mock military branch of the faux independent micro-nation called the Conch Republic that was formed when Key West, Florida, declared its independence from the United States in 1982.
Captain Kiwi of the Madre Maria estimated the voyage would take six to seven days, round trip, from the Keys to Coopers Town docks on the island of Great Abaco.
Sailing mates Ron Salisbury and Allison Calhoun will accompany him on the trip.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on Sept. 1 and churned over the islands for days, with sustained winds of 185 mph, gusts estimated as high as 220 mph, and more than 20 feet of storm surge.
The Conch Republic Navy flotillas are part of Key West Cares, an alliance of Key West residents, community leaders, city officials, church leaders and national/international partners who began immediately after the hurricane, working with the Bahamian government to coordinate emergency aid, largely for Green Turtle Cay, which has been Key West’s sister city since 1977, as well as other stricken areas.
As the Conch Republic Navy prepped cargo for the sea voyage on Stock Island, other volunteers were loading another 7,000 pounds of relief supplies onto a cargo plane leaving from the Key West Airport. The shipments and the nine cargo flights that preceded them bring the total amount of relief supplies shipped by Key West Cares and its donors to nearly 65,000 pounds.
Some of the islanders’ most pressing needs include underwear for adults and children, gallon jugs of water, and hand tools including hammers and saws. Multiple Keys businesses are serving as donation drop-off locations, including: Winn Dixie stores in Key West, Big Pine and Marathon; all Key West and Stock Island CVS stores, Kmart, Pet Supermarket, GFS and Strunk ACE Hardware. Cash donations can be made via the Key West Cares website at keywestcares.com.
The organization is entirely volunteer-run, with 100% of all donations going directly to those in need. For more information, visit the Key West Cares Facebook page.