IN AN interview with The Voice CARICOM head and St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has urged people throughout the Carib- bean diaspora to lend their support to the relief efforts in The Bahamas after it was hit by Hurricane Dorian.
More than 70,000 people have lost their homes on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, the parts of the Bahamas hardest hit by the hurricane and at the time of going to press the death toll had climbed to 50.
Chastanet expressed his horror at the devastation and destruction. He told The Voice: “I appeal to the international community, governments and institutions, to come forward and partner with us in helping The Bahamas through the difficult days and months ahead.”
Speaking during a short stopover in London on his way to an international conference in Brussels earlier this month, Chastanet said it was time for the fellow governments in the region to start planning for the aftermath of such catastrophes.
He said: “We are very good at making preparations for the approach of hurricanes but it’s the post-event that we need to also focus on.”
The St Lucian prime minister, who is also chairman of CARICOM, said that fellow Caribbean leaders had expressed their full solidarity with the government and people of The Bahamas and stood ready to give whatever assistance is required to deal with the effects of the tragedy.
He added that he had seen the devastation first hand when he led a delegation from CARICOM and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to the Bahamas following the passage of Dorian and met with The Bahamas’ Prime Minister Hubert Minnis for a situation briefing with several agencies about the extent of the destruction.
He said: “Witnessing the destruction on Abaco Island is extremely heartbreaking. It is a sad reminder of the challenges and threats which continue to affect the development and existence of Small Island Developing States. It’s also a reminder that we must continue to invest in building resilience whilst always remaining in state of readiness for whatever challenges nature may throw our way.”
Meanwhile, The Bahamas High Commission in London has put out a list of information for people wishing to send immediate supplies to those in need.
A page on its website lists contact details where financial donations and immediate supplies should be sent to.
People with relatives who are not able to be contacted in the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco are encouraged to contact the Rapid Assessments Team.
A short statement issued by the High Commission said that it “wishes to thank all persons who have made contact to express their desire to help the people of The Bahamas by donations or relief efforts and encourages you to remain in contact should you have any further inquiries”.
This comes after the UK government announced a £1.5 million fund to help with the recovery efforts in The Bahamas.
The initial amount will fund the delivery of critical aid supplies on Royal Navy ship RFA Mounts Bay that is already underway, and support the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency in its work to coordinate the international response.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Hurricane Dorian has devastated lives and communities in The Bahamas. The Foreign Office is coordinating the UK’s cross-government response so that we get aid and support to those who need it most.”
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “My heart goes out to all of those who have been affected by this tragedy and lost their loved ones.
“DFID experts are working as part of the cross-government team alongside local authorities, the British military and international partners to urgently get life-saving assistance to the people of The Bahamas.”
With wind gusts of up to 200mph and sea levels rising to up to 23ft above normal levels, Dorian is the most powerful hurricane to hit the Bahamas since records began.
Minnis said: “We are in the midst of an historic tragedy.” He added: “The
devastation is unprecedented and extensive.” Country representatives and world leaders have pledged support.
Commonwealth Secretary- General Patricia Scotland said: “We want the government and all Bahamians to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them; and that we are working with our partners to make available as swiftly as possible whatever assistance The Bahamas may require at this time of great need and uncertainty.
“It is heartrending to hear of the destruction and disruption this extremely powerful Atlantic hurricane has caused, forcing people out of their homes and wreaking widespread devastation on The Bahamas.
“Memories of similar disastrous impacts in other Commonwealth countries caused by floods in Asia, by cyclones in Africa and the Pacific, and by hurricanes in the Caribbean, are still fresh in my mind.
“Nations are rebuilding from those climate disasters. We share with the people of The Bahamas deep concern about the impact of Hurricane Dorian on vulnerable communities and for economic resilience.
“We will carry forward with renewed vigour our Commonwealth advocacy and work in support of small and vulnerable countries facing the serious challenge of climate change – an undoubted cause of the increasing frequency and intensity of these natural disasters.”
Barbados’ prime minister Mia Amor Mottley said she was “deeply saddened” by the suffering the Bahamian people and has pledged her government’s urgent assistance, saying that personnel and equipment from the Barbados Defence Force and the Barbados Coast Guard are on standby.
If you need further information you can contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office hotline number on 0207 008 1500 or visit bahamasclondon.net/ latest-news