EMA Continues Hurricane Joaquin Relief Efforts in Earnest

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Pittstown home in aftermath
Pittstown home in aftermath

By The National Emergency Management Agency

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, continues its recovery and relief efforts to those storm-ravaged areas affected by the catastrophic Hurricane Joaquin of a week ago.

As part of those efforts, Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell headed a team of clergymen into Crooked Island on Friday, October 9, to render psychological counseling and moral support to those residents who experienced the wrath of the storm.

Approximately 5,000 residents from six islands were affected as Hurricane Joaquin, which quickly became a Category 4 storm, traveled through the Central and Southeast islands of Rum Cay, San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked, Long Island and Mayaguana.

Immediately after the “All Clear” was issued by the Met Department on October 3, 2015, response teams were deployed to the respective islands namely: Long Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador for specified periods of time with the purpose of bringing relief to the affected community members, conducting search and rescue, damage assessment, access route clearing and the restoration of critical facilities.

Measures Taken

October 3-6, 2015: Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and the Director of NEMA and other officials visited the significantly affected islands and met with the Disaster Consultative Committees, community members and response teams on those islands to carry out assessments as to the immediate needs of those residents.

The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remains open under partial activation, with critical members of the National Disaster Committee on hand to continue to communicate with Family Island Administrators via NEMA-issued satellite phones to effectively coordinate local, national and international response efforts.

Between October 1-7, 2015: the Royal Bahamas Defence Force deployed impact teams to Long Island, Rum Cay, Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana and San Salvador to provide logistical support to the District Administrators. Deployment will continue to those impacted islands.

The Defence Force also conducted auxiliary patrols and marine support via air and sea in response to Hurricane Joaquin’s impact on the islands. It also operated in concert with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Lyme Bay, which facilitated evacuation exercises of residents, where necessary.

Regional and International Response

On October 6, 2015: A Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment Team (RDNT) comprising 21 members from organizations and countries, namely the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management (ODPEM) in Jamaica, and team members from Canada, the Virgin Islands and Barbados, reported to NEMA. The representatives were specialists in response coordination, information management, housing, critical facilities, infrastructure assessment, coastal zone inspection, and GIS specialists.

The United States Embassy in Nassau, via the US Coast Guard, on October 3 provided resources, which included conducting a reconnaissance exercise of the disaster-stricken areas, the evacuation of residents, and airlifts.

The US Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) donated 36,000 pounds of supplies comprising pots, pans, silverware, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits for distribution to disaster stricken areas. These items are being stored at the National Disaster Supplies Warehouse, Coral Harbour.

On October 8, 2015: the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the US Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) pledged Disaster Relief Equipment and Supplies.

From the public utilities, BTC reported that in Mayaguana, land lines were being restored incrementally as of October 6, 2015. Services were restored in San Salvador; network service was restored in Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, and Rum Cay.

Bahamas Electricity Corporation reported that on October 8, a team from New Providence was dispatched to North Long Island, to restore electricity where possible.