It’s the single word that is on Dexter Ferguson’s mind as he sits in a Kelowna hotel room with his son Dexter Jr. and his wife, Bridgenna. He uses it to describe the immense amount of support he and his family have felt since arriving in Kelowna on Monday night.
To get here, they travelled more than 4,500 km from the Bahamas — which was devastatingly struck by Hurricane Dorian just over one week ago.
As of Sept. 11, the Bahamas’ National Emergency Management Agency has listed over 2,500 people as missing and the official death toll is currently 50. Tens of thousands of people on both the Abacos and Grand Bahama islands remain in need of aid.
|Ferguson (left) and Carter (right) outside Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez – Kelowna Capital News)|
Soon after the disaster, Mike Carter, a Kelowna chef who once worked with Ferguson in the Bahamas, began trying to contact anybody he could on the island.
“Dexter reached out and said he’d lost his house,” said Carter. “He asked if there was any way that I could try and get him to Canada and I said ‘sure.’ I dropped everything that I was doing and spent the next five straight days working every hour trying to get him here.”
Carter succeeded, thanks in part to a still-active GoFundMe campaign.
But his work isn’t done yet.
“Dexter has a sister on the island with a two-month-old baby,” he said. “Her house has been destroyed; she’s standing in water lines four-hours-long, in the heat.”
“The situation is very bad,” added Ferguson.
“Right now, the water table is poisoned. People can’t get clean water to take a shower or drink. Certain entities donated water but it’s still hard for everybody to get some.”
Carter said they’re trying to find a boat to get the two to Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas. Carter said that from there, it will be easier to get Ferguson’s family to Canada.
But prices for the trip have inflated as more and more people try to leave the islands.
“That’s the hardest thing right now,” said Carter. “The last quote that we just got for somebody for a boat to get them off was $11,000.”
Carter estimates they will need another $25,000 for a boat, a flight and other transportation, to get the two out of the Bahamas, so they are again turning to the community for support.
“This process is very strenuous,” said Ferguson. “It’s going to take a lot of money and support just to get it off the ground.”
Carter said while cash donations are what is most needed right now, they are also accepting grocery store gift cards and are still seeking out shelter for Ferguson and his family.
“We’re still looking for accommodation that’s very reasonably priced or possibly could be donated,” he said.
The Canadian Red Cross has offered $750 towards the Ferguson family’s first month of rent when they can find a more permanent place to stay.
Kelowna Transit also donated free bus passes and H2O Fitness and Adventure Centre for donated a family pass for the Fergusons to use.
Currently, the family is being put up at the Manteo Resort free of charge and clothing donations were being accepted at the Hotel Eldorado today.
Donations are coming in but the family is still in need of warm winter clothing. Sizes needed are men’s XL with 46-48 pants for Dexter, XL young boys 16-18 pants for Dexter Jr. and women’s small/medium with pants size 14-15 for Bridegenna.
“Mike did a very good job getting us off the island. He really took care of everything,” said Ferguson. “I’m just really appreciative of everything he’s doing.”