Culver-Stockton freshman from Freeport, Grand Bahama, watches Dorian's wrath from afar

Craig Rolle
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 8, 2019 12:01 am

CANTON, Mo. -- From more than a thousand miles away, Craig Rolle watched as Hurricane Dorian bore down on his homeland of the Bahamas.

"I just felt helpless knowing that I'm away from home," the Culver-Stockton College freshman said. "I can't really do anything to help my family and the ones back home. It felt like I couldn't do anything about it, thinking about if my family was OK, if some of them were alive and what condition our house was in."

Hurricane Dorian roared as a Category 5 storm, the strongest and slowest to hit the Bahamas, taking at least 30 lives and leaving thousands homeless. The storm stalled for two days over the islands, unleashing its wrath primarily against the islands of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Rolle said his parents are still living in their home in Freeport on Grand Bahama, which had minor damage from the storm, and they've taken in his grandmother.

"My grandmother's house is completely done. It's finished. Our church is finished. It's all gone. Everything was gone," Rolle said.

Rolle has been in contact with his sister and got to speak briefly to his parents, but still is waiting for a longer conversation with them.

Rolle, recruited to Culver to play basketball, has been on the Canton, Mo., campus just two weeks. His parents and uncle moved him onto campus, then rushed back home "when they heard the storm was coming to start making preparations for it," he said.

That left the 19-year-old settling into college after spending last year, his first in the United States, at DME Sports Academy in Daytona Beach, Fla., and trying to keep up on what was happening back home through weather reports and social media.

"My friends, my coaches, my teachers had made me feel better about the situation," he said. "I had people here supporting me. It was good to know that."

CSC basketball coach Aaron Hill said the last two weeks unfortunately have been a whirlwind for Rolle.

"We're relieved knowing his immediate family was safe, but many were not so fortunate," Hill said. "I really can't imagine what he's going through -- being a long way from home, the challenges of trying to communicate with limited cell service there on the island, just the unknowns that can be so difficult," Hill said.

"We're trying to support him in every way we can. The biggest way locally is trying to be a community for him as much as we can be, even though we've only gotten to spend the last couple of weeks together."

Rolle had planned a trip home at Christmas, but the hurricane's devastation likely will move up his plans.

"I think I'll try to go back as soon as possible to see what help I can be," he said. "Me and a lot of guys who play basketball in different states, all from the Bahamas originally, are trying to get back home and help out people who have nothing anymore."

Recovering from Hurricane Dorian will be a long process.

"We have a lot of storms. Even though we just had another storm, some people are still recovering from the last one that happened," Rolle said. "There is really no recovery from this one, and if it is, it will be a long time."

The need will be great – not only for financial help but meeting everyday needs like clothing and shoes.

"People only escaped with the clothes on their back. You have people in need," Rolle said.

"Maybe the situation can mobilize some help even here in the Midwest, whatever that may look like – financial donations, prayers for those so impacted by the terrible storm," Hill said.

In the meantime, Rolle will try to focus on classes and basketball, which starts practices this week.

"From when the storm started, I was in the gym three or four times a day trying to work out and get my mind off of it, not think of it as much," he said.

"We hope through that shared experience of the love of the game we can continue to be a community for him," Hill said. "Hopefully basketball will be able to give him some relief from what's been such a difficult time."


How to Help

Culver-Stockton College freshman Craig Rolle urges anyone wanting to help the relief efforts following Hurricane Dorian's destructive path in his hometown of Freeport, Grand Bahama, to donate to a GoFundMe site created by Buddy Hield, a basketball player for the NBA's Sacramento Kings and another Freeport native.

That site is https://www.gofundme.com/f/r28pr-hurricane-dorian-relief-in-the-bahamas.