Frantically, Mike Carter, a Kelowna chef, called all his former employees in the Bahamas after he heard about the devastating hurricane. However, only one person was able to answer the phone; it would be a lifesaving call for Dexter Ferguson and his family.
Ferguson told Carter that he had lost everything in the hurricane, and asked if there was any possible way his former employer could get him and his family to Canada. Without hesitation Carter said, “Sure,” and then the enormity of this nearly impossible request dawned on Carter. However, with God all things are possible, and Carter, driven by what he called a Higher Power urging him on, went to work the next five days making the impossible happen. Truly, it was a miracle and answer to a desperate prayer from the young Bahamian Christian family.
Amazingly, the Ferguson family survived in their flooded house by standing on top of the kitchen counter for 48 hours while hurricane Dorian hovered and the relentless waters rose. Tragically, many friends and relatives weren’t as fortunate.
The congregation at the Rutland Seventh-day Adventist Church was riveted listening to Dexter telling his family’s story on the Sabbath morning of Sept. 14, 2019. Dexter’s wife, Bridgenna, stifled a sob while Dexter recounted their horrific experiences throughout the storm and the harrowing and dangerous exodus from the Bahamas.
Boats were available for the desperate Bahamians, but at exorbitant prices for those urgently trying to flee, and getting the whole family to Canada would take at least $25,000 total. In the meantime, pandemonium ensued with huge numbers of people trying to get onto ferries to escape. To add to their misery, the water table was poisoned from the flooding, so there wasn’t safe water to drink or shower with, and food was scarce, and the lineups to obtain these necessities lasted hours.
Mike Carter started a GoFundMe Campaign, and complete strangers along with some generous friends assisted financially. One such big-hearted friend spent her life savings on the boat ride for them, and she has since been paid back. The family got off the island and then eventually made their way to Canada. Dexter’s sister, Amanda, and two-month-old son Maverick soon followed suit and found their way to Kelowna too, and the siblings were reunited thanks to Carter as well. They have a 90-day visa to stay in Canada, but have nothing to go home to, and Carter is working on trying to get them emergency refugee status.
Kelowna citizens and businesses are rallying to help the family, and the Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel in Kelowna is currently putting up the families in the interim until they find more permanent housing, while Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna is accepting clothing donations.
The Rutland church’s iServe team has also contributed by giving the families a handmade quilt and a Bag of Love to Dexter Jr. In addition, iServe is in it for the long haul, with leaders Dwight and Donna Rose coordinating various efforts to meet the family’s day-to-day needs. The Fergusons are very touched by Canadians kindness and how safe it is compared to where they recently left. They feel at home at the Rutland church and have been attending there the past few weeks since arriving in Kelowna and plan on continuing to do so, while the church, through the iServe team, are doing all they can to help this Bahamian family.
–Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel, Communications Secretary, Rutland Seventh-day Adventist Church