Hurricane Dorian Impacts Members, Missionaries in Bahamas
Contributed By Sydney Walker, Church News staff writer
The two full-time missionaries serving on Grand Bahama Island are safe after Hurricane Dorian pummeled the Bahamas, local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have confirmed.
Elder José L. Alonso, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Church's Caribbean Area, has been working with President Fred Parker of the Jamaica Kingston Mission and other local leaders to track down information about the missionaries and members in the Bahamas.
“These missionaries currently are at the chapel belonging to the Grand Bahama Branch located in Freeport and providing assistance to members of the branch who have taken refuge there at the Church building, including the branch president and his family,” Elder Alonso said in an email to the Church News. “President Parker is working to gain contact with the U.S. embassy in order to get these two missionaries evacuated.”
According to the Jamaica Kingston Mission Facebook page, all missionaries serving in Nassau have been evacuated. Two missionaries in Turks and Caicos and four in the Cayman Islands have also been evacuated.
Meanwhile, as the hurricane moves toward the United States and the eastern coast of Florida, missionaries in that state serving in areas projected to be hardest hit have been relocated to safer locations, said Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.
There are two branches of the Church in the affected areas in the Bahamas: the New Providence Branch and the Grand Bahama Branch.
All members of the New Providence Branch, located in Nassau, have been accounted for and are in their homes. The water in the area is beginning to recede and no major flooding has affected the members' homes, Elder Alonso said.
Members of the Grand Bahama Branch —which includes those on the islands of Grand Bahama, Marsh Harbour, and Abaco—have seen major destruction of buildings and property in some areas. Flooding is a concern. Thirty members residing on the island of Abaco evacuated before the storm hit, except one family, which local leaders are still trying to reach.
The meetinghouses for both branches are in good condition and are serving as shelters for those in need.
Map showing the location of two branches of the Church in the affected areas in the Bahamas: the Grand Bahama Branch in Freeport and the New Providence Branch on Nassau. Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Nassau District President Orrin Ashby explained the difficulty of communicating with members in the affected areas.
“We still haven’t received all the information we would like so far,” President Ashby said, “but we are hopeful that everything with the members are OK.“
Hurricane Dorian was classified a category 4 storm as it hovered over the Bahamas on Monday. Record-tying wind speeds on landfall and large amounts of rain have caused severe damage, the Associated Press reported. Five deaths have been recorded so far.
The storm is currently on track to hit the Florida coast on Tuesday evening. Over 2 million people have been warned to evacuate in the southeastern U.S.
This story will be updated with more information.