Local coffee shop owners provide relief for the Bahamas
Co-owners of Subculture Coffee Roasters Sean Scott and Rodney Mayo went on two cruises to the Bahamas in one week. But on the second trip, Scott and Mayo became instant cruise directors, not because they love vacations, but because of the catastrophic damage that took place in the Bahamas just days prior.
The most recent hurricane to plague the eastern seaboard was Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane that stalled for two days on top of the Bahamas, specifically the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island, in early September. According to The Verge, “The winds that typically steer a hurricane along fell apart at the same time that the storm landed over the Bahamas.”
The devastating storm flattened all infrastructure in the northwestern Bahamas, annihilating millions of homes and killing at least 50 Bahamians, according to NBC News’ most recent death count.
During the storm on Sept. 3, Mayo was in his West Palm Beach home. As someone who frequently visits the Bahamas, seeing the mass destruction motivated Mayo to take action.
“Rodney was a catalyst for this,” Scott said. “He sent out a text Tuesday night, a kind of frantic text, saying ‘We’ve got to get people off the islands!’ and we were like, ‘Yeah okay… but how?’”
This text motivated Scott and Mayo to chase after what would help many people: a cruise liner that’s only destination is to the Bahamas, The Grand Celebration.
As business partners, Scott and Mayo used the Subculture community that they fostered to help fund the relief effort. They asked for donations to secure the Grand Celebration. They left for their first trip on Thursday, Sept 5. They distributed 225,000 pounds of supplies and brought thousands of volunteers. Scott and Mayo anticipate the same efforts for their second trip, according to WPTV.
Although their first attempt at helping the Bahamas was a massive success, Scott was originally anticipating failure.
“I was terrified. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to be the new Fire Festival,” Scott said. “There were thousands of people waiting outside the port trying to get on the boat. It’s like shoulder-to-shoulder, kids were passing out, our medics were giving IVs and it’s burning hot.”
Their objectives were to distribute supplies, bring documented Bahamians to the States and provide host homes for those who need refuge. Scott said that using the Grand Celebration allowed them to transfer 1,400 people to the U.S. They also placed 61 people in temporary homes.
The evening of Sunday, Sept. 15, the next group of volunteers, including Scott and Mayo, left the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach for Freeport, Bahamas.
Scott explained that he and his crew were passionate about helping the Bahamas from the beginning.
“We’d want the same done to us. It’s simple as that… if for a second you put yourself in their position and imagine your whole life falling down around you, you would hope that your neighbors would show up,” Scott said. “We want them to know they’re not forgotten and we care about them deeply and we’ll do everything in our power to make that be known.”
By Michaela Payne