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Update: #BahamasStrong

As we’ve all seen, the response to the devastation of The Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian has been dramatic. In a good way. Indeed, all of the efforts to support the island nation, below, are based in just one community, Riviera Beach. Why? Perhaps because, like so many communities in south Florida, Bahamians were among the original residents when the Town of Riviera was founded in 1922 and many of those pioneer families remain there. Read a story here in the New York Times about the Bahamian roots of south Florida and, below, see what’s happening in Riviera Beach, Freeport’s sister city, on behalf of the very similar city on Grand Bahama.

Sisters? Yes: in 2012, then-Mayor Thomas A. Masters led the creation of a ‘sister city’ partnership with Freeport, which is a form of legal or social agreement between two communities in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties. It made sense and, since his election in March, new Riviera Beach Mayor Ronnie L. Felder, with the support of City Council, has been working on a formal, retooled re-launch of that agreement. He went to Freeport in July to pitch and, in response, a 10-person Bahamian delegation followed up in August with a trip here.

More relief support efforts are in the works, so come back here for updates. Currently, these projects are in place:

  • Riviera Beach Mayor Ronnie L. Felder and Johnny Longboats will co-host a Bahamas Relief effort at the longtime island eatery on Tuesday. The event seeks to collect certain items in exchange for…um, something from Johnny Longboats! And, this just in: Stileet will be there! Stileet is widely known as the ‘King of Rake ‘n’ Scrape,’ the music of The Bahamas, who lives in Freeport, Grand Bahama. He and his family were devastated by Hurricane Dorian and, as he talked to Mayor Felder about it, they came up with an idea. Come back here to find out if it comes to fruition! But head to Singer Island tomorrow to hear what Rake ‘n’ Scrape sounds like.
  • At GoomBay Splash. The second annual all-things-Bahamas event, GoomBay Splash, will happen November 9 at Calloway Amphitheatre in Riviera Beach. New this time? A relief effort that says, for every $20 general admission ticket sold, $5 will go to help The Bahamas. It’ll still be fun: the food, culture and people of The Bahamas will be in the house. For ticket information, including the $35 VIP tickets, click here; and to learn more about the event itself, visit its social media page here. Questions? Contact 626-755-3690 or send an email here.
  • At City Hall. Through Mayor Felder and the City Council, the City of Riviera Beach has partnered with city-based Tropical Shipping and the Bahamian government’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to organize and distribute collected goods to the islands. Residents and others can drop off goods anytime at Riviera Beach Fire Rescue’s Station #1, located at City Hall, 600 W. Blue Heron Boulevard. Questions? Call the Mayor’s Office at 561-845-4145 or RBFR at 561-845-4104. Where to go? Just look for the sign, above.
  • And With the Alpha Men–Here and There. There are two Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity chapters in PBC and they are partnering with their brothers in Freeport, Grand Bahama, to set up a direct channel for local donations. The collection site, which opened Saturday, September 7, is at the Judge Edward Rodgers Center for Community Development, 251 W. 11th Street. The Freeport Alphas have partnered with a Miami-based cargo carrier to bring the goods to the island and have created a GoFundMe page here as well. Learn more about the effort by reading a press release here and, here, a document that shows what the Freeport Alphas have put in place. And how you can help.
  • The first recognizable relief effort in Riviera Beach is a huge shipping container sitting in the parking lot of the Imperial Plaza on Blue Heron Boulevard. The team effort behind it is, also, huge: McCray’s Backyard BBQ, X102.3 FM Radio, Mothers Against Murderers Association (MAMA) and, even, former Mayor Thomas A. Masters, among others, who supported the effort as the newly named International Ambassador to the Washington-based World Conference of Mayors. He launched the sister-city agreement in 2012. Donations will be accepted daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. until the container is filled.

And remember: come back here for updates! Conversations are happening everyday.