Abacos community group shifts to long term vision

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The iconic Hopetown Lighthouse on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas remained standing and operational after Hurricane Dorian last September.
The iconic Hopetown Lighthouse on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas remained standing and operational after Hurricane Dorian last September. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers

Hope Town United (HTU), a community-led nonprofit organization formed to aid in the recovery and restoration of Elbow Cay, one of the islands in the Abacos that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Dorian, has shifted its focus from debris management to long-term restoration.

Gay Nagle Myers' firsthand report from the Abacos in January.

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"Rebuilding our community is our next phase," said Brian Malone, the organization's executive director. "Our first five projects prioritize families and businesses. From a new school and medical clinic to utilities' infrastructure, housing and public docks, these projects will help the Hope Town community return, grow and thrive."

Since the hurricane last September, Hope Town United has spent more than $1.5 million in the community, focused on funding island debris management and supporting cash-for-work programs. Funding has been raised through private and philanthropic donations.

"While completing these projects will require significant fundraising, [Hope Town United] will coordinate with local, regional and national government agencies to manage and oversee all efforts," Malone said.

It hopes to come up with a sustainable rebuilding blueprint that can serve as a model for other low-lying islands that have been or could be affected by natural disasters and climate change.

The organization is named after the largest settlement on the island, whose pre-Dorian population totaled 500, most of whom were evacuated after the storm.

The candy-striped lighthouse dates from the 1860s and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Elbow Cay. It did survive the hurricane.

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