FREEPORT, Bahamas - In an effort to expedite and improve the overall aid distribution on Grand Bahama, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Grand Bahama has requested additional resources from the U.S. Coast Guard and the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to support logistics, warehouse management and distribution.
The additional technical support will allow the Grand Bahama Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to better advance restoration efforts following the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
During a live press conference on Monday, September 16,NEMA provided an update on relief efforts underway on the island.
Kay Forbes-Smith, NEMA Coordinator, Grand Bahama, shared details of NEMA’s progress on the island, including the establishment of an aid distribution warehouse in Freeport, as well as the strengthened coordination with numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s), faith-based organizations and local volunteers.
NEMA spearheads daily coordination meetings with the dozens of volunteer organizations and NGOs, such as St. Maarten-based K1 Direct, sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line, and many others who are helping to distribute food, water, medical care and other necessities directly to the communities most devastated.
As of today, NEMA has also set up various warehouses to receive shipments of donated food, water and other supplies on Grand Bahama and has a goal to establish at least two more in the coming days.
“It is imperative that we do our absolute best to process the supplies and aid in a very efficient manner. Supplies, such as food and water, in a warehouse do us no good unless we can quickly get them inspected, sorted and packaged for delivery or pick up,” said Smith.
In addition, NEMA is helping to facilitate organizations such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, World Relief Kitchen, and Operation Relief Barbecue, who are working selflessly, along with the assistance of the Grand Bahama Christian Council, to provide Bahamians access to warm, nourishing meals.
Sanitation Services has been leading the effort to remove debris from the roads, including a two-day focus on Wednesday and Thursday in East Grand Bahama.
There are volunteer organizations already working to demuck households and begin mold remediation efforts. Team Rubicon is one of the organizations helping with this task and is on the ground already working.
On Saturday, September 14, NEMA launched “Operation Relief Saturday”, where volunteers and NEMA staff assembled hundreds of boxes of basic supplies – including food, water and hygiene products and delivered them directly, door-to-door, in various neighborhoods, including Hawksbill, Hudson Estates, Regency Park and others.
According to NEMA officials, the Ministry of Public Works will begin the process of assessing damage to structures, with the ultimate goal of determining how best to begin efficient rebuilding efforts.
NEMA is committed to providing regular updates, in full transparency, so that all Grand Bahamians are aware of the developments and progress being made in aid, distribution and in the rebuilding of Grand Bahama.
“The outpouring of generosity and caring has been, and continues to be, truly remarkable,” said Smith. “As we move forward with the relief operation, I would ask that all residents of Grand Bahama remain focused on caring for the needs of our people and ultimately rebuilding our community.
“Now is the time that we all need to pull together as one and be strong and supportive neighbors for each other.”