A family relief fund is being set up to benefit the surviving families of the 33 crew who perished in the El Faro, Reuters reports.
Many are still left in shock to this day, more than two weeks after the cargo ship El Faro went down off the Bahamas as it folded to the might of Hurricane Joaquin during a regular cargo run between Florida and Puerto Rico.
Raising up the fund is a fitting gesture made to honor the memory of those who were dragged down in what is thought to be the worst cargo shipping disaster that has pulled down an American vessel in the last 30 years.
Floundering in the sea and powerless against the whiplash of Hurricane Joaquin, it was reported that the ship gave one last distress call, then all ended in silence. El Faro had lost propulsion, but what caused the loss of power is still unknown.
Anthony Chiarello, CEO of Tote Inc., which owns El Faro, said that numerous members of the public, including employees, mariners, customers are asking where to send their donations for the family. The Seamen's Church Institute, North America's largest mariners' service agency, will handle the fund. This also includes an education fund for the surviving children of the El Faro crew.
Meanwhile, St. Augustine News reports that a number of former El Faro crew members have taken the news of the disappearance of the 790-foot (240 meter) container ship very hard. One of these was Milton Vega, director of the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris) Catholic Port Ministry branch in Jacksonville. He had been well acquainted with ship and crew, having boarded many times to greet the members and to offer good will, religious assistance and moral support.
Another volunteer was Pete Decker who had worked with the ministry for six years. Decker had close relationships with the people of the El Faro and remember them as hard working individuals who were always eager to receive the moral support and care that the Stella Maris offered. Decker is a retired worker at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay whose heart went out to the seafarers of El Faro who were "ordinary people like any of us."
Vega has said the ministry will pursue service ever more to serve those in need.