West Palm Beach just missed the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, Hurricane Dorian. The Bahamas, our closest neighbors to the west took the brunt of the storm.
Individuals and other local organizations stepped up in a big way over the last few weeks and turned West Palm Beach into the staging ground for Bahamas relief efforts.
Two weeks ago I wrote about 7 ways you can help The Bahamas – here are 6 more local organizations who are helping.
1. Bahamas Relief Cruise
Members of our downtown hospitality industry came together to gather supplies and organize delivery. The CEO of Bahama Paradise Cruise donated the Grand Bahamas ship and 600 crew to bring 300 volunteers and 42 pallets of supplies including 50 generators, 20 chainsaws, 15 pallets of water and 10 pallets of food.
The first shipment of supplies brought food and water to people who hadn’t had a hot meal in days.
Groups of volunteers helped clear out an orphanage that had its first floor completely flooded while people took shelter on the 2nd floor. They also gave water, food and medical aid to to 4000 people who had lined up in 98 degree heat waiting to leave the island.
The Grand Paradise was able to bring 1100 refugees back to the Port of Palm Beach.
The second trip left on September 15th bringing additional aid.
The hard part starts as the islands of The Bahamas try to rebuild their devastated infrastructure as the conditions continue to deteriorate.
A website bahamasreliefcruise.org was set up to look at long term relief efforts. And a drive was created to raise money and organize volunteer efforts with the Grand Bahamas cruise ship. As of this writing they have raised $542,280 of their $1,000,000 goal.
2. Banyan Cay Resort
Banyan Cay Resort, located on the shores of Lake Mangonia just outside downtown donated a $100,000 mobile kitchen to aid in relief work.
“I’ve been watching the news, and there is so much destruction. I realized while so many people are donating food, there are areas so devastated there isn’t the simple infrastructure needed to offer hot meals to survivors.” Club owner Domenic Gatto, Jr. says ”We have this mobile kitchen just sitting here. If we can find an organization that can handle getting it over there, I know it can help,”
Work is currently underway to get this mobile kitchen to help those in need.
3. Grandview Public Market
The team at Grandview Public Market is partnering with the Green Turtle Cay Foundation. This charitable, not-for-profit organization was founded in 1996 to help give visitors to the Cay as a way to support the community and enhance life on the island. The foundation has raised money to support various projects in the Bahamas with an emphasis on improving local schools, libraries, medical clinics, park facilities and physical environment as well as the local cultural events and programs.
“We chose Green Turtle Cay Foundation because of their ties with Abaco, Bahamas,” said Joe Muniz, manager of Grandview Public Market. “We will be working with them as long as people continue to want to give.”
You can drop off supplies at a dedicated drop off site within Grandview Market.
Other businesses are joining the relief efforts. Gypsy Life Surf Shop is asking that donors focus on shelter-type items like tents, blankets and sleeping bags. Anything donated to Gypsy Life will support Hope Town, Elbow Cay Relief.
Steel Tie Spirits, also in the Warehouse District, has partnered with the West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings Foundation (EWF). Founded by Palm Beach County native Scott Lewis, EWF is an all-volunteer organization that is well known for their immediate response and high impact efforts following natural disasters in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. You can drop off supplies at Steel Tie during their opening hours.
4. Eagles Wings Foundation
Eagles Wings Foundation gathered over 40 tons of supplies which they are shipping to the Bahamas on a cargo ship. They are also flying in shipments of aid on planes, as well as helping clear roads and bring much needed aid from the airports to the people in need.
Donate to Eagles Wings Foundation at ewfrelief.org.
5. The Paradise Fund
The Paradise Fund has experience in first response efforts. In hurricanes Matthew and Joaquin the team of pilots and volunteers arrived days before any government help and have delivered much needed supplies to people struggling to survive.
To date the organization has raised over $49,000 for The Bahamas. In the three days following the storm they sent over 30 plane loads of supplies.
“Last night we heard Moore’s Island had only received ONE planeload of supplies. They desperately needed water as their water supply was destroyed and many people were getting dehydrated. ” Kent Anderson, organizer of a GoFundMe posted “They also needed food and other supplies. Over the course of six hours, we loaded several planes and delivered over 12,000lbs of water, food, and supplies.”
Donate to the Paradise Fund at: bit.ly/dorianrelief
6. Take a Vacation
While some of the islands of the Bahamas were absolutely devastated, many were relatively unscathed. Their primary source of income is our tourism, and the government of The Bahamas is encouraging people not to cancel any planned vacations. So go ahead and treat yourself to that Bahamas vacation you had planned, you deserve it!
If you book a trip to the Bahamas on Tuesday, Sept. 17, using the booking site CheapCaribbean, 100 percent of the profits will be donated to the National Association of The Bahamas. On top of that, CheapCaribbean is matching donations up to $50,000 (or up to $1,000 per person) through Oct. 15, according to the site.
Now that I think about it, I haven’t had a vacation in a while… Bahamas here I come!
Have you driven by Phipps Park recently? You can’t help but notice the large sculpture that is under construction?
It is part of the “Hello Sunshine” installation which was selected by West Palm Beach’s Art In Public Places through a competitive process. The total cost of the 5 pieces of art is $256,000. Read this document for all the details of the project.
Here’s how the artist explains it:
Meet “Hello Sunshine” – Hello Sunshine is the geometrical representation of the sunrise that is sectioned into five clusters of sunrays. Each cluster is unique and together they form the whole sunrise, but just like the notion of union, one cannot see the whole picture at once. You have to experience each part individually, in order to appreciate the whole thing. We want to give people the opportunity to go out and experience all five districts and see the whole picture that makes up West Palm Beach.
Here are the renderings and locations for each of the sculptures.
Each sculpture will have specific characteristics based on where it is located. District 1 (Australian & 45th St) and District 5 (Phipps Park) will be unique in that they will include features which will allow people to interact with the sculpture through a bench that is incorporated into the design.
District 3 at Okeechobee and Rosemary will be the tallest sculpture towering at 16ft.
Note: I have been following the South Flagler Drive two-way Cycle Track process since the very beginning, so I though it fair to record these events as I experienced them. These views are my own and do not represent anyone else. Any errors are mine.
Everyone knows that I spend all my time on Clematis Street. A less known fact is that I spend the all rest of my time at home in the South End of West Palm Beach.
I love South Flagler Drive. Having this beautiful stretch of public space that runs through (almost) the entire length of the city is truly unique to South Florida.
You’ll see me walking Jackson (my Golden Retriever) in the evenings, running (OK, walking) at sunrise, biking on the weekends, and driving to work on Flagler.
As you walk down Flagler you can’t go a couple blocks without a running into neighbor you need to catch up with, watching a fisherman catch a fish, or seeing a couple manatees swim by. It is fantastic, and my second favorite street (after Clematis, of course).
As much as I love Flagler Dr. there are a couple problems I see with it.
- Condition of the road is terrible
- Cars drive way too fast
- With fisherman & people walking dogs cycling on the existing trail can be challenging. There are traditional bike lanes on the road but because of items 1 & 2 most casual cyclists bike on the trail.
A Bicycle Master Plan for West Palm Beach
Around May of 2018 under Mayor Jeri Muoio the City of West Palm Beach adopted the West Palm Beach Bicycle Master Plan which laid out a plan for a connected bicycle network throughout the City.
The purpose of this master plan is to guide the creation of an efficient network of connected and convenient bicycle facilities for the City of West Palm Beach. This system will also:
- Enhance connectivity and safety
- Be inclusive of diverse users
- Older adults
- Persons with disabilities
- Address health concerns by providing wider options for active transportation
- Aid in economic development
A key component of the plan was to create 18.1 miles of “Separated Bike Lanes”. A majority of these ran from north to south creating a dedicated bicycle trail along the entire length of Flagler Drive.
Each section of the bike path had it’s own design, here was the original proposed design form Southern Blvd to Summa Street.
A two-way separated cycle path
The two-way cycle path that was proposed will be a first in West Palm Beach, but has been implemented in other cities. The City adhered to the Federal Highway Administration guidelines for designing the bike lanes.
The following is from a section describing “Two-Way Separated Bike Lane on Right-Side of Two-Way Street” from the Federal Highway Administration’s Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide. The emphasis is mine.
“Providing a two-way separated bike lane on a two-way street may be desirable under certain circumstances such as minimizing conflicts on high frequency transit corridors or along corridors with a higher number of intersections or driveways on one side of the street (such as along a waterfront).”
One of the key benefits that I immediately saw was the removal of the south-bound bike lane that crosses the hundreds of driveways of the homes on Flagler. As someone who bikes down Flagler regularly, I avoid the south-bound bike lane for this very reason. A separated bike path on the East side of the street would remove this completely.
According to the City narrowing traffic lanes are the quickest way to slow down traffic. Providing a safe protected South Flagler Drive Cycle Track accomplishes 2 goals at the same time.
Having said that, going from the existing 10.5ft traffic lanes to 9ft traffic lanes was a bit much. Anyone who has gone down Forest Hill knows that 9ft lanes are VERY TIGHT.
Meetings Neighbors and the City
In January of 2019 the South End Neighborhood Association contacted the city because of a concern regarding the use of “Armadillos” as a divider between traffic and the bike lane.
The City came to the SENA meeting and discussed the project with the neighbors, showed the various options and decided to go with the more desirable (and expensive) concrete curbs.
Each of the meetings with City Staff were announced by SENA to their members, and staff took time to answer questions. In each meeting there were some concerns voiced by residents but the consensus was generally positive.
During this time the City met individually with Flagler Drive residents and decided to have a “Pedal Party” on Flagler Drive. The plan was to add the bike lanes to a section of Flagler Drive so that neighbors could experience the South Flagler Drive Cycle Track first hand.
We had about two-dozen neighbors show up to the cycle party which unfortunately ended about 45 minutes after it started with torrential downpour.
One of the things that was determined from our very short cycle party was that the 9ft travel lanes were too narrow for Flagler Drive. This information was brought to the city by Commissioner Lambert, and the City went back to engineering and came back with a design that would give us 10ft traffic lanes.
- Flagler Dr. Proposed: 10ft lanes
- Flagler Dr. Existing: 10.5ft lanes
- Forrest Hill Blvd between 95 & Dixie: 9ft lanes
- Rosemary Ave between Fern and Clematis (a trolley route for 15 years): 9ft lanes
- S. Olive Ave: 9.5ft lanes
There were many people who were not satisfied with the level of engagement the City had with the neighborhood. Of course, there is always the opportunity to do more, but personally I have never seen an city project that had more public engagement than this one. In a poll by sent out by SENA 80% of respondents said that they had heard about the bike lane project.
Based on the community input the City agreed to:
- Add several speed tables to further slow the traffic.
- The original proposal called for recycled plastic “armadillos” to protect the bike lanes. The city agreed to use more expensive but better looking “concrete curbs”.
- Keep the addition of signs to a minimum.
- Change Travel lanes from 9ft to 10ft (a difference of 6 inches from the current design)
The City did not agree to:
- Add Bulb-outs, round-abouts or other traffic-calming devices (too expensive for the project)
- Moving the cycle path away from the road and within the existing swale (would require large and expensive engineering effort)
Transportation Engineer Uyen Deng said to the Commission meeting, with an unlimited budget more options could be made available. Staff is working with the budget that they had for this project.
It should be noted that the majority of the money in this project is going for the much needed repaving of Flagler. The ONLY cost for the bike lanes is the minimal expense of the concrete curb separators. As far as I understand this extra money is coming from a grant which cannot be used for any other purposes.
Pushback from neighboring residents
In the final days before the commission would vote on this project strong pushback came from many of the neighboring residents via a poll an subsequent email campaigns targeting commissioners who would have to vote to approve this change.
While I respect the neighbors opinions, I hope this article gives more insight into all the work and communication that has gone into this project over the last year.
Furthermore, I hope it clears up some of the misinformation and concerns that I have heard.
- Flagler Drive is getting paved as part of this project.
- With the reconfiguration each travel lane will end up only 6 inches narrower that the current configuration.
- A two-way cyclepath on the right side of a two-way street is safe and in compliance with Federal Highway Administration Guidelines.
- The additional traffic calming will make it even safer for cyclists than it is now.
- Consolidating the bicycle lanes on one side of the street is not an expensive or wasteful project.
And finally, to the City Commissioners who will need to continue to approve the bike lane projects as the Bicycle Master Plan is implemented. Either this City Commission believes in the Bicycle Master Plan and the value of having Complete Streets and a connected cycle network or it doesn’t.
Our bicycle network may not be used by every resident of the city, or every neighbor on the street where a bicycle path exists, but it does provide safe method of transportation for the many residents of this city who cannot afford any other method of transportation to and from their jobs.
Please do your job equitably. As part of implementing the Bicycle Master Plan the city has already made much harder decisions than the one we’re facing now.
I personally believe that the South Flagler Drive Cycle Track will be a net-gain for both the neighborhood and the City. We’ll get a slower road. Additional amenities for cyclists, more space to walk dogs and go fishing on the seawall. Being recognized as part of a national cycling trail all for the cost of narrowing travel lanes 6 inches and whatever the concrete curbs cost. It’s a no-brainer.
P.S. Yes, I did go out and measure the travel lanes – 10.5 ft… this whole discussion is about 6 inches of each travel lane!
After what has been a catastrophic Hurricane Dorian for the Bahamas many Floridians are wondering what they can do to help.
The Association of Bahamas Marinas warned individuals against trying to take their boats to the Bahamas. Instead they encouraged “funneling as much of the relief effort through the Bahamas Red Cross Society as possible.“
West Palm Beach has many organizations who are gathering supplies and working with their counterparts in The Bahamas to deliver them to those in need.
Different organizations are requesting different supplies at different times, so make sure you read all the options to determine where to donate.
If you have extra supplies please consider donating them or you can purchase specific items from your local grocery store or Target. There are also opportunities to donate cash via gofundme‘s or Facebook donations.
1. West Palm Beach Police Department
The West Palm Beach Police Department has several officers who have volunteered to deliver Hurricane Relief to the Bahamas. Tomorrow, they will collect the items listed below from anyone wishing to donate them.
Donations will be accepted between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. tomorrow, September 4th, 2019, at the West Palm Beach Police Department, 600 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach, Florida 33401.
*Although it is appreciated we are unable to accept clothing.
Only the following new items will be accepted:
Water, Water Filtration Devices, Canned goods, Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s), Hygiene Kits, First Aid Kits, Wet Wipes, Large Plastic Trash Bags, Mosquito repellent, Non-perishable dry goods, Towels, Gloves, Blankets, Chain Saws, Generators, Portable Stoves, Butane Canisters, Air Mattresses, Diapers, Baby wipes, Baby juice, Baby food, Baby formula, Cereal
Lysol, Disinfectant, Flashlights
2. Donate to Eagles’ Wings Foundation
Following the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian over Labor Day weekend. West Palm Beach-based Eagles’ Wings Foundation (EWF) has assembled a fleet of 40 planes and pilots, two heavy-lift rescue helicopters and a cargo plane to transport essential supplies and medical aid to the people of The Bahamas. Trained emergency response crews from the Eagles’ Wings team will begin assisting with on-the-ground rescue and recovery efforts likely beginning Thursday morning. A donation drive is also being launched with drop-off beginning Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m.
Donations now needed for the Dorian relief effort include: tarps, nails, hammers, wrenches, batteries, battery operated lights, solar lights, camp stoves, butane cans, small BBQ grills, Tylenol and Advil, bandages, antibiotic ointment, bleach, mosquito nets and spray, towels, sheets, blankets, air mattresses and pumps, toilet paper, tissues and hygiene products. Donations from the public are also being accepted at Pistache French Bistro, PB Catch, The Regional, and Rocco’s Tacos. Bulk donations are also being accepted Lewis’ West Palm Beach warehouse. Monetary donations can be made by visiting www.ewrelief.org.
Donations are being accepted seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Wednesday, September 4 at 514 E. 14th Street, West Palm Beach, 33401. This site will be accepting both individual donations as well as bulk donations brought in by tractor trailers and trucks. Monetary donations can be made by visiting www.ewfrelief.org.
3. Donate to World Central Kitchen
Via the Palm Beach Post: A culinary team from chef/humanitarian Jose Andres’ disaster relief effort has landed in West Palm to help feed first responders and storm victims.
In a matter of hours Monday, Chef Lindsay Autry’s Southern restaurant in West Palm Beach was transformed into the local headquarters for humanitarian chef José Andrés’ disaster relief team.
The kitchen, dining room and bar at The Regional Kitchen is now a staging area for Andrés’ World Central Kitchen team, primed to serve first responders and storm victims in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
4. Phipps Baseball Park Relief Drive
Phipps Baseball Park is spearheading an effort in conjunction with Grand Bahama Baseball to provide relief.
4301 S. Dixie Hwy
West Palm Beach, Fl
After 9/15: Weeknights 6pm – 8:30pm
Contact: Brad Cubbage 561 715 5822
5. South Florida Science Center
Please consider purchasing the following supplies to help our friends in the Bahamas. You may drop these items off at the South Florida Science Center located at 4801 Dreher Trail, West Palm Beach FL 33405 starting SEPTEMBER 4th from 9am to 5pm. Currently, the list of supplies is as follows:
What is needed:
Generators (Please with no fuel in the tanks), Empty 5-gallon gas tanks, Extension cords, Chainsaws, Tarps (new and folded neatly), Portable fans, Tents, Batteries, Flashlights, Lanterns, Diapers, Toilet paper, Toiletries, Dog food, Water, drinks, and non-perishable food, Water purification tablets, Rubber gloves
Supplies received will be taken by boat to Grand Bahama and Abacos or lantana airport to be delivered by aircraft to the most heavily impacted areas.
6. O’Shea’s Relief Drive
O’Shea’s Pub was one of the last places to close and first places to open after the storm. They are dedicated to helping gathering supplies for the Bahamas.
You can drop supplies off at the following locations.
7. Palm Beach Outlets Supply Drive
Palm Beach Outlets will plan to reopen on Wednesday, September 4 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. following Hurricane Dorian.
Nordstrom Rack at Palm Beach Outlets is open September 3, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Outlets will also host a Bahamas Relief Supplies Drive starting on Wednesday, September 4 at 10 a.m. Visitors are encouraged to drop off much-needed supplies at the Customer Service desk located inside the Food Pavilion.
The following supplies are needed:
First Aid kits, Cleaning supplies, Canned goods, Box fans, Flashlights, Leather work gloves, Hand sanitizer, Non-perishable food, Water, Tarps, Tents, Toiletries, Diapers, Wipes (adults and babies)
For more information, visit PalmBeachOutlets.com or call (561) 515-4400. Palm Beach Outlets is located at 1751 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach.