Life-long resident of the island of Abaco in the Bahamas, Loretta Boodle had started her own small take-away restaurant right outside of her home. She was up and running for about two and a half years before the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record would come through the Bahamas and halt her business like so many others. Hurricane Dorian ripped apart homes, businesses, schools and the community of Marsh Harbour that Loretta calls home.
“Experiencing Dorian was a nightmare, I would think it was worse than a nightmare,” she reflected as the memories of the storm came back. “This was life-threatening, this was deadly and having young kids in the house - getting them to safety was a lot.”
Hurricane Dorian had damaged her house and business as it crawled across the island for hours dumping rain and battering the area with category 5 force winds. Without her business, money she had saved was stretched thin trying to repair her home and make a place for her two young children to do online schoolwork as the global pandemic forced them to stay home.
Though her food business was small, she says she didn’t need a lot of space to create tasty treats, with her fried conch fritters being a local favorite. But in trying to balance it all; being a mother, online schooling, fixing her house, and trying to get her business running again - Loretta said it was “heavy.”
The American Red Cross is working in Abaco with our partner, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) to help small business owners just like Loretta get back into operation by providing grants of up to $10,000. For Loretta, it went toward repairing her business kitchen and paying for the fuel that keeps her generator going, as so much of Abaco is still without power. Her generator keeps her kitchen cooking and provides internet access for her children as they go to school online.
“We are very grateful. We can’t be more grateful than this. Without the help, we would make it but not as far as this…it’s with the help given and we are very grateful and thankful.”
Loretta says the financial gifts from the Red Cross “lifted a burden” and helped her get back to work in her kitchen and allowed her the ability to help those in need. Even before Hurricane Dorian changed her life and so many others, Loretta was always looking out for her community. Now she’s back to cooking! She says it’s so much more than a food business but a way to bless others as the community continues to recover from Dorian. She often looks for ways to donate food and water when she knows others are struggling. Loretta says even when it feels like nothing is going your way, good food can be the most welcome comfort.
“Like I always do: if you don’t have it, or if you’re a dollar short- I can always help you because I can help you go to bed without a hungry belly.”
American Red Cross Response
Thanks to the incredible generosity of the public, the Red Cross has been able to directly support the people whose lives were most deeply disrupted by Dorian. More than one year later, the American Red Cross has never stopped working in the Bahamas. Donations to the Red Cross allowed us to put cash right back into the hands of local people so they could choose exactly what they needed for themselves. We gave out emergency supplies, food and clean water to thousands of families and helped to be the bridge to comfort and hope following a life-changing disaster.
If you would like to donate to support families whose lives are upended by disasters and humanitarian crises around the world, help them by making a donation at redcross.org/gift.