HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - The death toll in the Bahamas has climbed to 45 following Hurricane Dorian and officials say that number is only expected to grow.
The destruction in the country triggers emotional memories for a Henrico woman who survived a devastating hurricane three decades ago. Now, the missionary is planning a trip to the Bahamas. Her goal is to head to the islands months after the storm to let survivors know they haven’t been forgotten.
“It triggers my memories. (It brings) me right back, especially when I see mothers with their children. (It brings) me right back,” said Alicia Aralu Mitchell.
She survived a major storm herself.
"My goodness. 1988,” she recalled.
Mitchell will never forget Hurricane Gilbert. She was living in Jamaica when the storm ravaged the Caribbean.
"Upstairs, the window just shattered. The window just shattered…We all ran outside thinking the storm was over when someone shouted ‘go back inside, you’re in the middle of the storm’," she remembered.
Good thing they did.
"The storm came after the eye was passed and just take the roof and threw it over to the other street…We call it in Jamaica ‘all hell break loose’ cause that was hell itself,” she said.
Now, the Henrico author and missionary is moved to act and is heading to the Bahamas. Right now, she’s working to collect backpacks and school supplies, and even pampers and soap to give to children when the country begins to get on its feet again. Too often she says, survivors are forgotten once the attention goes away. She wants Virginia to donate to the cause.
"You can write a little love letter. Write a little love letter and put whatever you want to put in that love letter, put it in the bag,” she said.
Because the hope is that a child will open it and realize they haven't been forgotten.
"When I see things like this I know firsthand the suffering and the pain that it cause…It tells me that I have to do something,” Mitchell said.
A drop off box will be placed at the Far West End Seventh Day Adventist Church located at 15600 Pouncey Tract Road in Hanover. Those who want to help can stop by during business hours. Organizers are collecting sneakers, pampers, dry milk, soap, book bags and school supplies. Mitchell has also created an online fundraiser, here.
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