A Florida Billionaire Lent His Yacht to Rescue 50 Dogs and Bring 30 Tons of Supplies to the Bahamas

A Florida billionaire and philanthropist donated use of his yacht to bring 30 tons of supplies to the Bahamas last week and rescue several dogs after Hurricane Dorian devastated the islands, according to reports.

Tom Golisano made his vessel Laurel available to emergency initiatives as part of a program organized by YachtAid Global—a non-profit which facilitates the use of luxury yachts for disaster relief efforts.

Laurel was used to transport water, food and sanitation kits from the Bahamian capital Nassau to Freeport on Grand Bahama—one of the islands that was hardest hit by the catastrophic Category 5 storm—on September 6, 7 and 8, the Naples Daily News reported. The yacht was also used to evacuate 50 dogs from the islands.

"I was very pleased to be able to assist in this global humanitarian effort to help the people and some of the dogs impacted by Hurricane Dorian," Golisano said.

"Laurel and our incredible crew led by Captain Roy Hodges all did an amazing job bringing essential supplies to the Bahamas and rescuing about 50 dogs who were left homeless when the shelter in which they lived was destroyed. I am very proud of all their hard work. We will all keep the people of the Bahamas in our prayers," he said.

Golisano, 77—who is estimated to have a net worth of around $3.1 billion as of 2018, according to Forbes—was the founder of payroll and human resources company Paychex, which he set up in 1971.

The billionaire is also owner of fiber-optic internet service service Greenlight Networks, which has its headquarters in Rochester, New York.

Golisano was a former owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team but he sold the team in 2011 for a price of $189 million, and he even ran three times for Governor of New York, although his campaigns were all unsuccessful.

Furthermore, the businessman is a founder of the Golisano Foundation which describes its mission as being "devoted exclusively to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes."

Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas as a Category 5 storm earlier this month with sustained maximum wind speeds of 185 miles per hour and gusts of up to 220 miles per hour—tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to make landfall.

The storm hovered over the region for around 48 hours, moving very slowly, thus exacerbating the damage it caused. Last week, officials estimated that around 90 percent of the infrastructure on the Abacos is damaged or destroyed, while around 15,000 are still in need of food and shelter, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

The current death toll on the islands currently stands at 50 people, however, this figure is expected to rise significantly given that 1,300 people are still listed as missing, according to the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency.

Bahamas, relief supplies
Relief aid is offloaded from the Royal Caribbean ship Navigator of the Seas in from Nassau on September 11, 2019 in Freeport on Grand Bahama, the Bahamas. Jose Jimenez/Getty Images