The owner of Deep Water Cay (DWC), the country’s first and oldest bonefishing lodge, has announced plans to cease operations immediately.
The difficult but necessary decision comes following the passage of Hurricane Dorian, which caused widespread damage across parts of the Northern Bahamas.
For the past month, the team at DWC has been providing emergency aid and supplies, raising charitable funds, assessing the catastrophic damage to DWC, and liaising with insurance adjusters. The clean-up of the island homes, lodges, and guest facilities will require barges and heavy equipment, but the island lost its docks to facilitate this work. Additionally, the cay is far from safe or habitable, with only the runway clear of debris for landing aid planes.
“Expected clean-up of the cay is estimated at well over a million dollars,” said Paul R Vahldiek, Jr., president of DWCH and a major shareholder. “It will take at least six months and require heavy equipment, operators, and proper disposal of many tons of debris to clean the cay. With no idea when power will be restored to East End, and no structures that can be connected on the island, no housing, offices, functioning water or sewage treatment plants in place we have simply been forced by mother nature to close.”
Last week, all staff and management positions at the property were made redundant. Moving forward, all of our company’s valued employees will receive generous distributions via a GOFUNDME Charitable Corporation account (gofundme.com/f/deep-water-cay-family) set up by the company’s US-based team. The combined GOFUNDME account and other donations via cheques deposited into the Florida Charitable Corp account should hold close to $500,000 by next week’s end, noted Vahldiek.
“We hope that the GOFUNDME distributions will at least help get folks started down the road to recovery,” said Vahldiek. “We are also working with a placement company to try and help some of our employees with work in other locations for this upcoming season. Additionally, we have been in contact with Matt Wideman at the Love and Light Foundation out of Orlando to provide temporary shelter.”
Over the past 10 years, the owner of the DWC property has invested over $44 million to create an environment that visitors have come to know and love. It is with a heavy heart that they will cease operations, but DWC is engaging with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) – Sean Penn’s charitable organization – to provide sustainable long-term on-the-ground support and building in the communities of Sweetings Cay, McLean’s Town and Pelican Point. That effort is already underway. Vahldiek will continue to work daily on matters relative to the restoration of Deep Water Cay and jobs for these communities.