NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A Bahamian native based in West Palm Beach, Florida, has decided to open his home to cook Thanksgiving dinner for several Hurricane Dorian evacuees living in limbo in the city.
Meanwhile, the Bahamas Consul in Miami in conjunction with National Association of Bahamas (NAB) will also host a dinner for hundreds more evacuees seeking refuge in Florida after the deadly storm.
Keith Thompson, a retired military veteran, told Eyewitness News Online he grew up in Nassau where he lived through McCollough Corner until he moved to the United States at the age of 11.
His grandfather, the late Salathiel Thompson, was the country’s first Bahamian Commissioner of Police.
Thompson said he went to school in West Palm Beach but returned to The Bahamas for summers in Freeport.
Following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, he said he went to the island to find that it was nothing like he remembered it growing up.
“I remember all the vibrant economic and busy life in Freeport and now it’s pretty much a ghost town,” he said.
Thompson said he knows there are a lot of Bahamians in the city in the aftermath of the Category 5 storm, adding that he talks to some of them all the time.
“They are still trying to make it for the six months that they’ve been allotted to stay,” he said.
“I have a really big back yard and I’m going to put up two big tents and get some music and cook a bunch of turkeys and try to get everybody together and put them in a festive mood.”
Thompson, who owned a Caribbean restaurant for nearly two years, said he “loves to cook and loves feeding people”.
He said everyone who accepted his invitation will be coming together in a show of love and support for their home country.
He added that he believes everyone is just looking forward to “the family atmosphere and the good food.”
Hurricane Dorian barreled down on Grand Bahama and Abaco from September 1 – 3. The storm left thousands displaced, hundreds still missing and at least 69 dead.
Authorities have said the death toll will be staggering as they continue cleanup efforts and sweep areas for remains.
Bahamian Consul General in Miami Linda Mackey has said the consul is aware of over 300 Dorian evacuees living in Florida and that numbers continues to grow.
While school-aged children have been allowed in public schools in the cities, the evacuees are not allowed to work as they only hold U.S. visitors’ visas.
Those Bahamians have been advised not to seek employment, which could jeopardize their visa status.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has called for those Bahamian evacuees living in Florida to return home and help rebuild their islands.
However, several of them have said they have no homes, job or future on the storm-ravaged islands.