NASSAU, The Bahamas – The National Emergency Management Agency NEMA, held a press conference on National Heroes’ Day, October 12, 2015, to update the public on the relief efforts following Hurricane Joaquin’s destructive path through the Central and Southeast Bahamas.
First Assistant Secretary at NEMA Chrystal Glinton explained that the 13 Emergency Support Function (ESF) groups, which make up the national disaster preparedness committee, are strategically involved in the NEMA-coordinated efforts to those islands impacted by the Category 4 storm.
She reaffirmed that the approximately 5,000 individuals on the islands of Rum Cay, San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay, Long Island and Mayaguana are being closely monitored and that disaster relief supplies are being equitably distributed throughout the impacted areas.
The ESF representatives who gave updates during the press conference held at NEMA on Gladstone Road and NEMA’s Way were: Robert Deal, Deputy General Manager, Water & Sewerage Corporation; Lillian Quant-Forbes, Acting Director of the Department of Social Services; Andrew Thompson, Department of Environmental Health Services; Marcel Johnson, Director of Nursing, Ministry of Health; Brian Jacques, Bahamas Telecommunications Company; and Gayle Moncur, Senior Assistant Secretary, NEMA.
NEMA will continue to hold weekly press briefings to keep the public updated on the recovery efforts and other progress being made in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin’s impact.
WATER AND SEWERAGE CORPORATION
The Water & Sewerage Corporation deployed Assessment and Disaster Recovery Teams to San Salvador, Long Island, Crooked Island & Long Cay, and Acklins on Sunday, October 4, 2015, immediately following the passage of Hurricane Joaquin and the issuance of the “all clear” from the Met Office.
Normal operations at its Cockburn Town Desalination Plant resumed on Friday, October 9, using a large standby generator shipped to the island
from New Providence earlier in the week. On Sunday, October 11, BEC power supply was restored. From Monday to Friday, the community was supplied via the Well Field System, albeit with lower than normal system pressures.
WSC’s Simms Desalination Plant and water supply to the community was re-activated since Saturday, October 3, after the restoration of BEC’s power supply. The Deadman’s Cay Desalination Plant which supplies all of Central Long Island was re-activated on Monday, October 5, using the onsite standby generator. The plant remains on; however a few (less than 10%) parts of the
distribution system remain off due to leaks caused during the passage of the hurricane. The corporation intends to resume tankered water supply starting Monday, October 12, however our delivery area will be subject to road conditions.
Crooked Island and Long Cay
The corporation was able to re-activate the Colonel Hill Well Field Water Supply System, on a limited basis, using a standby generator for power supply on Thursday, October 8. Once BEC restored power supply to the Long Cay Desalination Plant on Saturday, October 10, water supply to the community was restored shortly thereafter.
The corporation is actively pursuing options to rapidly install desalination plants at Colonel Hill and at Landrail Point, and to also deploy a water tanker truck to assist in meeting the potable water demands of the island.
The Snug Corner/Mason’s Bay Desalination Plant was re-activated on Monday, October 5, following the restoration of BEC’s power supply. The Hard Hill Tank System is being supplied from Snug Corner/Mason’s Bay.
The Salina Point Desalination Plant is intact but there is no power supply. WSC is working closely with BEC for the early restoration of the power supply. Residents are being supplied via gravity feed from the limited water supply in the storage tank.
BEC power supply to the Chester’s/Lovely Bay Well Field was restored on Wednesday, October 7, and water supply to Chester’s was restored soon
thereafter. It is reported that approximately 1 mile of water pipeline to Lovely Bay was substantially damaged when the causeway was washed away. WSC is actively reviewing options as to how best to supply Lovely Bay in the interim while a determination is made with respect to the reconstruction of the causeway.
Staff reported that BEC’s power supply to the Pirates Well/Betsy Bay Well Field Water Supply System is on and supplying water to the residents. They also reported no damage to the new Desalination Plants on the island, which are being readied for commissioning in the coming weeks in Abraham’s Bay and Pirates Well/Betsy Bay.
The corporation will take emergency steps to ensure that potable water is made easily available at all of its facilities in the affected islands for all persons in need of water to meet their personal and family requirements.
The corporation also extends its sincere thanks and appreciation to its staff, and to all Governmental agencies (especially NEMA and BEC), private businesses and
citizens who have offered kind assistance in its ongoing recovery efforts.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Health Relief Assessment Teams were deployed to Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.
· Sunday, October 4, 2015 – 5 doctors. 7 nurses
· Monday, October 5, 2015 – 1 doctor. 1 nurse
· Wednesday, October 7, 2015 – 2 doctors
· Thursday, October 8, 2015 – 2 doctors
· Saturday, October 10, 2015 – 6 nurses
· Sunday, October 11, 2015 – 3 doctors. 9 nurses
Medical supplies, which include vaccines and equipment, are continuously being distributed to the affected islands as of October 5. Nursing staff rotation is conducted on a weekly basis and doctors rotate every three to four days. This is done in order for the medical teams to have some down time before redeployment.
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The department has deployed several teams throughout the impacted islands to carry out a number of sanitation exercises for the control of water-borne diseases and other related issues that might arise due to standing water residents might come in contact with.
The teams will rotate every two weeks in the initial stages. Teams are comprised of Vector Control Officers and Health Inspectors. Teams have already begun addressing vector issues through treatment of standing water, and fogging. Additional equipment and insecticides have been sent to all impacted islands. In collaboration with the Water & Sewerage Corporation, the Department of Environmental Health Services is also addressing disinfection of private water storage and catchment facilities. Advice is also being given to the community on the treatment methods for contaminated waters to be used for bathing.
Teams are also advising Local Government officials and the community with respect to management of debris and dead animals. Wherever possible wood and vegetative debris are being separated with the intention of further processing.
The Department of Environmental Health Services is extremely grateful to its staff who having experienced the hurricane and personal loss, and have continued to perform admirably under adverse conditions. The department also thanked the initial and team members who have provided excellent service and information to the affected islands; and its partners PAHO, NEMA, RBDF, W&S AND DPH, for the invaluable assistance given.
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES – INITIAL DEPLOYMENT OF SOCIAL WORKERS
Four Teams consisting of 14 Social Workers were deployed to conduct rapid initial damage assessments and assist with distribution of food and water to the severely affected islands of The Bahamas on Sunday, October 4, 2015 as follows:
The team was able to conduct assessments on 29 homes. They were unable to process any of the winter residents whose homes may have been affected. They are compiling data on the number of residents by gender; there were 10 school age children. The team returned to New Providence on Thursday 8th October 2015.
The team assessed 216 homes and counted 62 unoccupied homes. There are 227 students on the island, however, 5 have relocated to New Providence. The team returned to New Providence on Saturday 10th, October 2015.
The team processed 25 homes. There are 7 homes remaining in Long Cay which had 24 persons. There are 16 persons who remain in the Clinic as their homes are inhabitable. Long-term accommodations need to be identified for them and the other residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. The team returned to New Providence on Thursday 8th October 2015.
The team completed 107 assessments; this does not include the persons whose homes were destroyed. They are in the process of compiling their data. The team returned to New Providence on Friday, 9th, October 2015.
The team for Long Island was deployed on Monday 5th, October 2015. The team reported that the island was severely impacted which resulted in many homes being destroyed. It was difficult for the Social Workers to obtain an accurate count of all the families and homes that were affected by Hurricane Joaquin. However the Team is processing and compiling information on the number of men, women and children affected. The team returned to New Providence on Thursday, 8th, October 2015.
2nd DEPLOYMENT OF TEAMS:
The same team members returned to Acklins on Sunday, 11th, October. They are expected to return to New Providence on Wednesday 14th, October.
The team travelled to Crooked Island on Sunday, 11th, October and will remain there until Thursday 15th, October.
THE HELP DESK
The Desk is located at the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services on Thompson Boulevard opposite the Bahamas Hotel Training College. Information on the Desk is displayed on Channels 40 and 5.
HOURS OF OPERATION: Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Persons who need assistance outside of the stated times can contact a Social Services Representative at NEMA – 323-1398.
The Help Desk was established on Thursday 8th, October 2015 to allow the victims of Hurricane Joaquin who relocated to New Providence seeking shelter with relatives to register for assistance with the Department of Social Services. Their information is entered in a database, which allows for quick access their information as it relates to their needs.
NUMBER OF HURRICANE VICTIMS ASSESSED AT THE HELP DESK AND SOCIAL SERVICES CENTRES: 29
NUMBER OF CLIENTS APPROVED FOR EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE: 29
NUMBER OF CLIENTS APPROVED FOR ACCOMMODATIONS: 5. Two found other accommodations on Saturday. One went to Grand Bahama and the other returned to Long Island.
The Department of Social Services encourages persons affected by Hurricane Joaquin to register so that their information is recorded, therefore they would be able to benefit from any assistance the Government of The Bahamas grants.
BAHAMAS TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY (BTC)
One week ago after the passage of Hurricane Joaquin, BTC discovered 59 Cell Sites off line negatively impacting 59 Communities in the Central and Southern Bahamas.
Today, one week later, BTC can report that 38% of those Cell Sites have been restored.
The following is the status of those sites:
· On Cat Island, Cell Sites have been restored in Arthur’s Town, The Bight The Bluff, Smith’s Bay, Moss Town, Hawk’s Nest, Port Howe and Half Moon.
· On Exuma, Cell Sites have been restored in Forbes’s Hill, Ferry Bridge, Rolle Town George Town, Hooper’s Bay, Tar Bay, Moss Town, Ramsey, Farmer’s Hill, Steventon, Rolleville, Barratere, Little Farmer’s Cay, Staniel Cay, Highbourne’s Cay, Black Point, William’s Town, Bay View and George Town Airport.
· On Inagua, Cell Sites have been restored in Matthew Town.
· On Mayaguana, Cell Sites have been restored in Abraham’s Bay and Betsy Bay
· On Crooked Island, Cell Sites have been restored in Cabbage Hill. Cell Sites still inoperative are in Major’s Cay, Pitt’s Town, Long Cay and Cripple Hill.
· On Long Island, Cell Sites have been restored in Deadman’s Cay, Stella Maris, Simms and Clarence Town. Cell Sites sill inoperative are in Hamiltons, Salt Pond, Seymour’s, and Gordon’s-Mortimers, Roses, Millers and Greys.
· On Ragged Island, the Cell Site in Duncan Town has not yet been restored.
· On Rum Cay, the Cell Site in Port Nelson has not yet been restored. Technicians are working feverishly to resolve this problem. However, there is fixed line services at the BTC office there.
· On Acklins, the following Cell Sites have not been restored: Spring Point, Lovely Bay, Salina Point, Mason Bay, Pompey Bay and Pines Field.
· On San Salvador, the Cell Site has been restored in Cockburn Town. Services not yet restored in Polaris, Sandy Point and Dixon Hill.
On October 7, 2015 NEMA, the Arawak Cay Port Development [Nassau Container port], Tropical Shipping, Bahamas Red Cross, Rotary and Bahamas Ferries entered into a partnership in order to coordinate more efficiently, the emergency supplies donated and to ensure that the identified critical areas receive care packages as assigned inclusive of undocumented migrants.
The Emergency Support Function (ESF) 7, which is the group responsible for relief supplies and distribution – provided operational assistance in the management and coordination of relief supplies in the aftermath of a disaster.
Also, ESF 13 is responsible for organizing volunteers with the Bahamas Red Cross leading the charge at this time. This is to ensure a coordinated effort and to allow for the most effective service delivered to all impacted. The Department of Social Services also plays a critical role in these efforts.
A list of suggested food supplies for distribution was also given to the various partners with the suggested amounts of emergency relief items to be placed as per 4-6 persons per household that would sustain them for approximately two weeks. The same process is envisioned for phase two.