Social Services preparing relief packages for 73,000

The Ministry of Social Services is preparing relief packages for roughly 73,000 storm victims in Abaco and Grand Bahama, Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell said yesterday.

“Social services has mobilized its team and resources,” Campbell told reporters outside Cabinet.

“Yesterday evening, I was pleased to visit the department on Blue Hill Road to see that our team is busy working hard. They are already packing bags and parcels and non-perishable items and blankets, etc.; the things that we know people will need.”

Campbell said the department was waiting for an all clear to be given for the impacted islands.

“That is the only time we’re going to be able to land either with vessels or aircraft,” he said.

“But I can give assurance to persons who are affected, who are desperately waiting for assistance, that we too are desperately waiting for the first opportunity to assist them.

“We have an idea of what they need. We have an idea of what the numbers are likely to be and we want to get in there and bring relief.”

Campbell said the government’s estimation of the number of people affected by Dorian is based on the 2010 census.

His comments came two days after Hurricane Dorian – then a Category 5 storm – tore through Abaco, killing five people.

The hurricane had sustained winds exceeding 180 miles per hour as it passed over the island.

Dorian weakened to a Category 4 as it moved over Grand Bahama on Monday.

However, despite a decrease in intensity, the storm still proved to be catastrophic as it stayed over the island for more than a day.

Yesterday, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said no one “could’ve been prepared for what the country has experienced”.

He said local governments on the impacted islands have already set up command centers.

“The only issue that we experienced and we’re still having some problems with are [satellite] phones that were used when communications went down because of the thick cloud cover,” Wells said.

“So, we were unable to touch base with the folks on the island once the storm was in full swing. We’re still having some communication issue with local government but the family island administrators – both in the north of Abaco, in Central Abaco and South Abaco – were able to work along with the teams to ensure that the shelters were opened and that folks are being assisted.”

He said he was notified that Cooper’s Town was “not as devastated” as Marsh Harbour.

“…If that is the case, then the port in North Abaco, which is just outside of Cooper’s Town, we may be able to set up a foothold there where we can get folks in and out,” Wells said.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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