Naples billionaire Tom Golisano provides yacht to aid in Bahamas relief

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, humanitarian aid continues to go to the Bahamas, and one of Southwest Florida’s famous billionaires and his yacht captain have joined the efforts to provide outreach for Bahamians who have suffered from this catastrophic hurricane.

Naples billionaire Tom Golisano approved the aid proposal made by his yacht captain, Roy Hodges, to provide outreach in the Bahamas.

“The whole island looks burned,” Hodges said. “We realized how much damage was gonna be there that we had on board what we thought could be useful to the people there.”

Hodges first called nonprofit YachtAid Global to find out what the islands needed most. Then, he called a dog shelter in Nassau, the nation’s capital. Finally, Hodges presented his plan to Golisano.

“Sent him an email, explaining that I might want to take 50 tons of cargo and possibly 90 dogs on board and asked him if that would be OK,” Hodges said.

It only took 15 minutes after Hodges sent his emailed plan that he received the green light to hit the water.

“The shelter in Nassau was already at full capacity,” Hodges said. “So they weren’t going to be able to take in the dogs that they were expecting from Abaco and Grand Bahama. So we actually took all of the dogs out of the shelter in Nassau, so that they would be able to accommodate those who would be coming in.”

There are nearly 4,000 Bahamian evacuees in South Florida, since Dorian destroyed entire homes in the Bahamas. Many more are still trying to evacuate to the United States to escape the devastation.

Rescue crews continue to search rubble for missing people, while government officials scan social media for the same purpose. There are 1,300 people still on the missing person’s list, and fears grow that the death toll will rise from the 50 people confirmed dead in the destruction of the storm.

Hodges is proud to be part this aid mission because of those hard truths for Bahamians and his personal sense of place and heartfelt passion for the island nation.

“I have a very strong connection to the Bahamas,” Hodges said. “I’ve been running boats there for 25 years, have a lot of friends there. I have a home in Eleuthera, so for me it was a very emotional thing.”

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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