GENEVA — Tameera McCardy has dozens of family members living in the Bahamas, so the last week has certainly been an emotional time as she has watched the devastation in her homeland from Hurricane Dorian.
“I could not hold back the tears earlier in the week. I felt so helpless being up here in upstate New York while my whole family was down there,” McCardy said Friday from the Geneva Community Center, where she is the lead coordinator for the Learning Center at the Boys & Girls Club. “I was devastated, but it helped to come here to the community center and work with the kids.”
Now that Dorian has passed, leaving historic destruction in its wake, fellow staff members at the community center are helping McCardy’s family by taking donations and designing a “Bahamas Strong” T-shirt that will be sold. Proceeds will go to her family, which saw homes destroyed by Dorian.
McCardy, a 2019 William Smith College graduate, grew up on the island of Eleuthera, where her mother and grandparents live. While it is south of the Abaco Islands, which took the direct hit from Dorian, McCardy said Eleuthera saw catastrophic flooding.
She has a number of cousins on Abaco and said one has only his passport, cell phone and the clothes on his back.
“Most of my cousins found shelter, but some are still waiting to be evacuated to someplace safe,” she said. “People are going crazy trying to get on and off the islands.”
McCardy said a little more than a week ago, few people were taking Dorian seriously, as was the case before Hurricane Andrew tore through the islands in 1992. That changed quickly.
“Just like Andrew, Dorian came out of hell,” she said.
McCardy has been in contact with some family members since the hurricane passed, but cell phone service is sporadic on Abaco and there is no electricity. Some power is being restored to Eleuthera.
“My family is all alive,” she said. “We are just trying to pick up the pieces and doing a lot of praying.”
Susan Tolleson, business manager for the Boys & Girls Club, said the T-shirt’s design was sent to Chad Lahr of Community Proud Apparel, which will produce the shirts. People will be able to order them on the Boys & Girls Club website (bgcgeneva.org) beginning today.
“We are trying to get this going as fast as we can, and we are collecting money here. Tameera has been with us for awhile. She is always upbeat, willing to help and is great with the kids,” Tolleson said, noting that more than 10 of McCardy’s family members came to Geneva for her graduation from William Smith in May. “Tameera is very reliable, mature and compassionate. All the staff here love her, but she misses her family.”
While there is a collection jar in the community center lobby, direct donations — including checks — can also be made by contacting Tolleson at (315) 759-6060 or email@example.com.