ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With telephone and Internet service severely wiped out across the Bahamas, people in the United States are struggling to get in touch with their loved ones.
In many cases, they don’t know where they are staying, if they are injured or if they have anything to eat.
A local business, North Sails, is using their own connections to provide those answers.
“What you are seeing is we are converting my business into a de facto communication and command center,” said owner Brian Malone.
Malone’s heritage in the Bahamas goes back centuries, specifically Hope Town, where he grew up.
“Seventh, eighth and ninth generation from Wyannie Malone, she settled the island in 1785 as one of the settlers,” said Brian’s wife Kathleen Robinson-Malone.
“My parents are on the island, my brother in-law, numerous cousins,” said Brian Malone.
His family survived Dorian, but their homes did not.
“I’m actually relieved that I don’t have to worry about our properties right now, I can focus entirely on the health and welfare of the people that are there,” said Malone.
So, the Malones and their extended family here in St. Petersburg are bridging the communication gap between the island and the United States.
“We were able to get a Sat phone on the island yesterday and we are coordinating with individuals on the island,” said Robinson-Malone.
They are in the process of making a list of everyone in Hope Town, where they are staying and their condition. That information will soon be posted on the Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue's Facebook page.
“They have the elderly and the informed in a location with a generator and keeping them cool, they have the kids in another location keeping them cool, they have multiple kitchens that they are feeding and providing meals to the whole community,” said Robinson-Malone. “We want to let people know their families are safe and taken care of.”