Bahamas thanks Bermuda for Dorian relief
Hurricane devastation remains widespread in the northern Bahamas, where residents shared heartfelt thanks yesterday for more than 100 tonnes of Bermudian aid.
As Bermuda readies for a second storm of its own in quick succession, the generosity of residents is helping Caribbean neighbours to come to terms.
But in towns such as Freeport on Grand Bahama, where Hurricane Dorian stalled as a Category 5 and delivered a day's battering, the need for aid remains acute.
Collins Roberts told The Royal Gazette last night that Dorian's impact on September 2 was “scary — it was the worst experience ever”.
Mr Roberts, who operated a business in Marsh Harbour on the neighbouring Abaco Islands, said the town was “totally gone”.
He said: “The only thing we could do is pray.”
Mr Roberts lost “one or two friends”, but his wife and daughter remain with him.
Flooding swept their home as Dorian put more than half of Grand Bahama under water.
Mr Roberts travelled to Marsh Harbour every week for his business, which sold clothes, appliances, movies and music.
“We lost everything. It's rough. I've got bills to pay and no money. We're just living day-to-day and trust in God that He will open another door.”
As the long recovery continues, aid has been patchy in Freetown; Mr Roberts said he had yet to receive any.
He added: “Whoever is distributing, so far only certain people are getting it.”
The need continues for “basics” such as clean food and water, but Mr Roberts suggested financial aid as a quick way of sending relief.
“Money,” he said. “That's what people need to help their families and get started.”
More than 50 people lost their lives in the area, and more than 1,000 remain missing. Thousands were left homeless.
Among those grateful for Bermuda aid were the Jervis family, who gave thanks in a video clip shared online on Saturday by Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security.
The five tell the camera: “Hello, thank you, Bermuda, from the Jervis family in the Bahamas.”
Aid arrived in Nassau, the capital, on September 12, on board the Royal Navy vessel HMS Protector.
Major Clarence Ingram, a relief worker formerly with the Salvation Army's Bermuda Division, described the work under way yesterday in Nassau.
Asked if the arrival of aid had boosted morale, Major Ingham said: “Oh, yes. We have received an overwhelming amount of donated goods.”
The Bermuda Red Cross, which as of yesterday had collected $187,537 for Bahamas relief, thanked the community and said the funds would assist in everything from shelter to migration.
Major Ingram agreed that financial aid was critical, adding: “The cost of shipping from island to island is a pricey undertaking.
“Right now, we're pretty maxed out sorting and packaging. In the coming weeks, financial aid will help, certainly for Grand Bahama, in getting life back together rather than just survival mode.”
Both Grand Bahama and Abaco had their airport buildings destroyed, but he said runways were taking flights during daylight hours.
“We've been to Abaco a few times,” Major Ingram said. “It has very extensive destruction. They're trying to do clean-up there in phases, starting with the heavy lifting.”
Restoring Abaco for residents to return would take “considerable thought”, with significant contamination raising the risk of disease.
Major Ingram added: “There's two different types of destruction. Abaco, particularly Marsh Harbour, was destroyed by wind.”
For Grand Bahama, severely hit by flooding, Major Ingram said: “Maybe after a month or so we will transition away from food and other resources.
“It's going to be a major effort to get these houses back in living condition. If you have an empty house, you'll need everything — small appliances, fridges, beds. It just depends which organisation decides what they are big on and able to share.”
The Bermuda Red Cross said financial donations were best sent to its Butterfield Bank account, 20 006 060 365472 200, and Clarien Bank account 4010035760.
The charity is teaming with Gosling's Ltd for a “happy hour with a cause” on October 4, at $50 per person in the Gosling's Wine Cellar, from 6pm to 9pm. All proceeds go to the Bahamas relief fund.