Based on the revelation concerning the Hurricane Dorian pledge shortfall by Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis, The Bahamas will be mostly going it alone in its rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
With the disappointing revelation of the Bahamian government collecting a paltry $364,000 of the $1.7 billion pledged, that should put to rest the Facebook allegation of hundreds of millions in Dorian donations being unaccounted for.
Lewis’ candid claim is also a lesson to Bahamians that a promise is a comfort to a fool.
With only $364,000 collected so far, over $1.6 billion remains outstanding — and will, quite frankly, never be collected. Donors have psychologically moved on from Dorian — and probably The Bahamas as well.
Celebrities such as Michael Jordan, Rihanna, Ludacris, Tom Brady, Tyler Perry, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Robert Christopher Riley, Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon and Lenny Kravitz all pledged to assist The Bahamas in the recovery efforts.
With Hollywood and the entertainment industry coming to an historic standstill due to COVID-19, Dorian is the last thing on the minds of these celebs.
Perhaps the millions pledged by the foregoing were funneled through the non-profit organizations which were ubiquitous on Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Whatever the case may be, the Bahamian government has only received $364,000 one full year after Dorian. Three hundred sixty-four thousand dollars is a mere drop in the bucket, as Dorian had caused $3.4 billion in damage, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.
Lewis’ comments to the press about a shifting in priorities with the advent of COVID-19 is only part of the reason for the massive shortfall.
COVID-19 began to make an impact on the United States in either January or February — around five months after Dorian slammed into The Bahamas.
Obviously, the pandemic has dominated news headlines throughout the world. But I think that other factors played a role in causing donors to lose interest in the Dorian recovery efforts.
One, the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States occurred a few months after Dorian.
Weeks later, it was Christmas, Boxing Day and the New Year’s Day holidays.
Weeks after New Year’s Day came the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on January 26 — an incident that shocked the world. And then in May, the death of George Floyd and the subsequent mass protests throughout the United States against perceived racial discrimination against ethnic minorities by white police officers.
Also, 2020 is an election year — the most contentious one in decades, in which Black Lives Matter operatives and the Democratic Party seem to be working as a cohesive unit to remove President Donald Trump from the Oval Office.
Moreover, the states of Louisiana and Texas were both hit by Hurricane Laura in late August, causing between $4 billion and $12 billion in damage and killing 10 people.
All of the foregoing are reasons, I think, that many donors have not made good on their financial pledges. And with the financial constraints of the central government, it comes as no shock that areas on Abaco and East Grand Bahama are still struggling to rebuild.
This is the unfortunate position The Bahamas finds itself in.
— Kevin Evans