ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — For 20 years, McCulley Marine Services, Inc. has provided barge shipping to and from the Caribbean for small businesses and homeowners. But now they’ve added humanitarian relief to their operation.
“We have a cargo barge leaving sometime this week with as much as she can carry for Man-O-War Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Hope Town and Grand Cay, said Jack McCulley, McCulley Marine Services vice president. “These are brave mariners.”
The cargo barge McCulley is referencing is the third sent since humanitarian efforts began. Approximately, 2,000 tons of community donations sent. Another 600 tons is on the way. Much of it to rebuild infrastructure but McCulley warns against independently providing relief.
”There’s debris, bodies and sunken vessels in the water,” said McCulley. “There are channels that used to have 10 feet of water in them for your boat to easily pass through and suddenly they have two. You’ll be stranded. You’'ll eat the supplies you intended to bring and run out of fuel. And someone will have to rescue you.”
These are valid concerns and now the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is warning citizens with vessels and planes not to work alone while bringing help to the Bahamas.
”We’ve received calls from people who have self-deployed over there and have gotten into trouble,” said Sheriff Ken Mascara. “Either their plane is confiscated or something is stolen from them so please let the professionals handle it.”
”You can’t just show up. They have airspace problems overthrew,” added Gayle Gilmore, Missionary Flights International donated goods coordinator.
Gilmore says at least 10 flights of first aid, tarps, tents and nonperishables have left MFI’s hangar. And the organization also has decades of customs experience and a pipeline with the Salvation Army.
”We have to comply just like any other airline that comes and goes even though we’re not a commercial airline,” she said.