Dear Fellow Rotarians,
As I reflect on the 2019-2020 Rotary year, I must say that it has truly been my pleasure serving as your Area Governor for the Island of Grand Bahama.
You have taught me the true meaning of being “connected” in Rotary. The United States has a motto: “E pluribus unum,” which means “out of many, one.” We exemplify that motto, for we are no longer five individual clubs in Grand Bahama, but are one BIG Rotary family, and for this I am very thankful, for you have created this unity, this connection.
Hurricane Dorian
The Northern Bahamas (Grand Bahama and Abaco)  was severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian, the worst hurricane in its history, a category 5 with wind speed of up to 220 mph and 23 ft water surges, wreaking havoc on the second and third revenue-producing islands in The Bahamas. It provided the greatest example of Rotary “connectedness” in the history of Rotary in The Bahamas.
Immediate Action Post-Dorian
Hurricane Dorian showed up on our beautiful island, as an unwelcome guest, on September 1, 2019, after which we immediately sprung into action, coming together to assess the needs of the residents in our community and to serve.
We provided clean water to thousands of people organized by the Water Plant and carried out by the Water Plant Team. However, as you know, that was only the beginning, for the need was much, much greater.
Assistance From District 6990
Recognizing the tremendous assistance required, our District 6990 immediately reached out to us, asking what was needed, and they went into action right away by providing eight (8) containers of every single thing we could possibly imagine.
If that wasn’t enough, our District decided that they wanted to do more than provide food and decided to help us rebuild the island by donating funds to the Robbin’s Fund. To date, we have received more than $600,000.00 from clubs in the District and worldwide, as well as personal donations by Rotarians and friends.
Corporate Partners
Corporate Grand Bahama, along with corporations in the US and New Providence, as well as NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations), stepped in as well and made significant financial contributions to our cause of more than $900,000.00, and more funds are forthcoming.
Mucking & Gutting of Homes
Because of all the financial contributions, we were able to repair more than 600 homes by purchasing materials and supplies to muck & gut homes, replace sheet rock and repair roofs for   families, so they could begin to experience the return of normalcy.
Repair of Boats
In East Grand Bahama, we also assisted with the repair of 115 fishing boats to get the Fishermen back to work, thanks to GlobalMedic. A Global Grant of $184,000.00 was approved for boat engines, thanks to our Rotary partners and District 7020.
Support from Service Clubs and Residents
There was a groundswell of support from the various service clubs on the island and from members of the community at large distributing water, issuing food items from the various warehouses and within the communities. Our warehouses were at the Falcons Boys Club’s new facility, the Fowlco Warehouse, the YMCA and the Leader Beverage Warehouse.
Sadly, however, when the news of the full impact of the hurricane was shared nationwide, we learned that Dorian left us all devastated with the unprecedented loss of lives, obliterated homes, destroyed businesses and shattered dreams.
Nevertheless, with the support of all involved and the resilience of the people of the Northern Bahamas, we know that Grand Bahama (and Abaco) will be rebuilt bigger, stronger and better.
My thanks and appreciation are extended to Districts 6990, 6970 and 7020 and  to all who supported this great effort with manpower, funds, use of their property, specialized services, thoughts and prayers and in any way imaginable.
As we are now one Rotary, we are one “Dream Team” and one community.
Best wishes,
Lisbeth Knowles
Past Area Governor
District 6990