Hurricane Dorian may be simmering to a whisper, having spun off the corners of Nova Scotia into the Labrador Sea. But the devastation left in its wake will be felt for years to come.
The Bahamas were especially hammered as Dorian hovered for two days above the island chain, splintering property, families and individual lives. Current estimates place the number of homeless at more than 70,000.
Care packages and essential provisions have been airlifted to remote areas. Other sources of comfort and refuge are coming from within — and not just for people.
“Ninety seven dogs are in my house,” Chella Phillips posted on Facebook. “Seventy nine of them are in my master bedroom.”
As winds whipped her island home, Phillips fanned out across her neighborhood, sweeping up as many abandoned animals as she could find. “I just started picking them up and grabbing them and bringing them home,” Phillips told NBC News.
Her nearly 100 four-legged roommates make maneuvering about her home challenging. But Phillips doesn’t seem to mind, even though she lost power last Monday as water poured in and her pumps failed: “I can’t even get one step without a dog being on my foot, but I’m not complaining because . . . everybody’s safe.” Phillips had to use buckets to bail water out of her house.
Despite the cramped and dire conditions, the dogs largely remained calm. Sick or anxious pups rode out the hurricane in donated crates. As she was able, Phillips played soothing music for her guests.
Phillips’ wave of humanity did not spontaneously rise with Dorian’s storm surge. Finding homes for her island’s homeless dogs has been Phillips’ passion for the past 15 years. Phillips runs The Voiceless Dogs of Nassau, Bahamas shelter which has rescued more than 1,000 ailing and discarded dogs. Many have found forever homes in the U.S. after being nursed back to health.
“I don’t want to put them on the street — they don’t deserve that,” Phillips said.
Donations are pouring in as Phillips’ story goes viral. To date, she has raised more than $275,000. Still, Phillips wishes she could do more.
“Each island has [an] abundance of homeless dogs,” Phillips wrote. “My heart is so broken for the ones without a place to hide a Cat 5 monster and only God can protect them now.”
In one corner of The Bahamas past week, we witnessed the worst of nature and the best of nurture.
Click here to contribute to The Voiceless Dogs of Nassau, Bahamas.