Ava Barrett could feel the fear creeping over her as she watched the TV news.
She’d just been trying to monitor the progress of Hurricane Dorian as it descended upon her homeland of the Bahamas when suddenly the footage became more personal.
As video played from the Bahamas of massive waves crashing into a building, she recognized the structure as her brother’s home.
“I’m looking at videos of where my brother is living, in the second level of his house, and you see water coming in,” said Barrett, a senior music industry student at Troy University. “I’m just hoping and praying he’ll make it out alive. Thankfully, he did make it out alive, but it was very scary for me. I can’t imagine what it was like for people who weren’t as lucky.”
Dorian, which struck the Bahamas on Sept. 1, was the worst disaster in Bahamian history, causing at least 50 deaths and unprecedented damage throughout the islands, including Barrett’s home of Grand Bahama.
“It is honestly one of the craziest things we’ve ever seen,” Barrett said. “There’s a lot of destruction. A lot of airports have been damaged, a lot of banks have been damaged, and a lot of people’s homes and personal items are destroyed. There are also many sad stories about people losing loved ones. We’re in a very painful spot, emotionally and mentally.”
While Barrett’s family is safe, the rebuilding process has only just begun, and she’s asking for help on behalf of her country.
Anyone who wants to contribute can donate items at the International Programs office in Hawkins Hall.
“A few Bahamians who attend TROY and I have been doing efforts to try and bring in supplies to send to people in need in the Bahamas, islands like Grand Bahama and Abaco that have been totally destroyed,” she said. “We’re raising funds and bringing supplies. Drop off anything you feel may help another person. I want to encourage people to go ahead and donate what you can. We appreciate even the smallest thing, an encouraging message. The smallest things do go a long way.”
Barrett is one of the featured singers in POPulus, the University’s pop music ensemble, which will be performing at Tailgate Terrace before this Saturday’s football game.
She’s worked in the music industry in a variety of forms since the age of 14, when she signed an artist’s contract with hip-hop superstar Flo Rida.
After graduating high school at age 17, she discovered TROY’s music industry program and its coordinator, Robert W. Smith.
“From 14 to 17 I was listed as one of Flo Rida’s artists, so I spent a lot of time recording music, writing original music, and it was something I was always passionate about,” Barrett said. “At the end of my high school career, I felt there was more for me to learn. I found Troy University, this amazing school here in Alabama, and I thought what a great way to expand my music career. I’m proud to say I’m so happy here. I enjoy what Robert W. Smith has been doing for the music industry program, a beautiful initiative.”
She’s formed bonds within the program that will last a lifetime, and she’s confident the family spirit at TROY will lead to help for her family and friends back home.
“Especially now facing this hurricane, trying to create engagement for relief effort for the Bahamas, I’ve found so much support through Troy University,” she said. “TROY is an international school. There are people all around us from all over the world. More now than ever, I feel very much a part of this community. You do what you can to help the people around you, both near and far.”