The Government of Guyana through the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) has activated its response mechanism to facilitate assistance and support for the Caribbean island of the Bahamas, which has suffered devastating effects from Hurricane Dorian.
Director General of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, said that he will be meeting with members of the Private Sector Commission today, with the view of mobilising and dispatching resources to the hurricane-ravaged island.
He noted that the Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams has been updated on the situation and has already briefed Cabinet on Guyana’s preparedness to respond.
Colonel Craig said that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is monitoring the effects of Hurricane Dorian. The Rapid Needs Assessment Team (RNAT) located in the Bahamas has prepared a pre-impact analysis, in collaboration with the national lead agencies, which is currently being reviewed by the Government of the Bahamas through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The devastation is reportedly unprecedented and extensive, with many homes, businesses, vehicles and other buildings completely or partially destroyed. According to the Director General, water pumps, reverse osmosis plant, bladder tanks, generators and hygiene kits were the immediate needs identified by the country, but the most appropriate need at this time is financial support.
He noted that the CDC plans to establish accounts at various commercial banks in Guyana so persons can make donations for relief efforts in the island. The accounts’ information will be circulated as soon as they are made available. The monies raised would be used to support response teams deployed, establish and manage shelters, and procure relief supplies.
The Commission will also be reaching out, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Guyanese living in the Bahamas, who were impacted, to determine what level of support is needed.
Additionally, the CDEMA has made a request for an oil and gas specialist in refineries to be identified within the member states, so they can be deployed to the island as part of the RNAT. The CDC is in contact with the Department of Energy and other key partners to identify such an expert.
On Sunday, September 1, Hurricane Dorian, a category five storm, made landfall on the Bahamas at Elbow Cay, Abacos Islands at approximately 12:40hrs with 185 mph winds. On Tuesday, September 3, it downgraded to a category 3 hurricane, still exhibiting slow forward movement. As such, the impact to Grand Bahama lasted several days. The total population affected on Grand Bahama and Abacos Islands was estimated to be 76,278. Seven persons have been confirmed dead.
In 2017, when the category five Hurricane Irma and Maria struck the U.S Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, the CDC received more than $20M worth in much needed relief supplies from the members of the Private Sector Commission and the Government of Guyana.
The hurricanes, which were only two weeks apart, were deemed the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Mitch in 1998, with a total of 3,193 fatalities.
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