PADUCAH — A husband and wife originally from west Kentucky were among a crew that used a luxury yacht to deliver supplies and rescue dogs in the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas.
Roy Hodges is the captain of the superyacht Laurel. His wife, Stephanie, does the bookkeeping and human resources on board. Roy is from Sharpe in Marshall County while Stephanie is from Reidland in McCracken County. They currently live in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The yacht is normally used for charter trips to the Bahamas, the Mediterranean and other parts of the world. It is owned by billionaire businessman and philanthropist Tom Golisano
Golisano allowed Roy, Stephanie and their crew of nearly two dozen people to use the yacht to help the people in the Bahamas earlier this month.
Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane at its peak, demolished parts of Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, displacing about 70,000 people. Officials said at least 50 people were killed and about 1,300 people are still missing.
"The Abacos and Grand Bahama, they're destroyed. It's really — it's a sad thing to see. As you're coming up on Grand Bahama, you can see that the land is just burnt," said Roy. "Whenever you're further east on Grand Bahama, all the trees are leveled. There's nothing standing. As you go further west, the trees are standing, but still everything is burned. The homes are all missing roofs."
Roy, Stephanie and their crew used the yacht to deliver 35 tons of supplies for hurricane victims. They transported the supplies from the Bahamas' capital, Nassau, to Freeport on Grand Bahama. The trip took roughly 12 hours.
"We had five big pallets of water. We had some sanitation kits that had everything from wipes to purified water, and there were candles in that, too, for lighting and all. We had food and water," Roy and Stephanie said.
The crew also used the yacht to pick up about 50 dogs from the Humane Society in Nassau, which was at capacity.
"There were some of them that had actually been flown down from Abaco where people had been evacuated, but they weren't able to take their pets with them. So those, we brought over to be reunited with their owners in West Palm," said Roy.
"There were people waiting for their dogs, and that was the best part," added Stephanie.
The rest of the dogs were transported from the Bahamas to the Big Dog Rescue Ranch in Florida to be adopted.
"It was good. I mean, we're set up really well for it," said Roy. "We're a large boat. It's 240 feet, so we have a huge garage where we carry our small boats and everything. So, we were able to free up some space in there, so we opened that up for them and we had air conditioning."
The Hodges commended their crew for jumping at the opportunity to transport the supplies and take care of the rescue dogs.
"(The crew) fed them. They kept the cages clean," the couple said. "We're super proud of our crew. They just stepped up and did whatever it took to get this mission accomplished."
The nonprofit Yacht Aid Global organized the mission.