Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 hurricane, has caused extensive and devastating damage across the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the Bahamas, according to initial assessments from authorities and Red Cross officials on the ground. The full extent of humanitarian needs will continue to emerge as Dorian is still causing a huge amount of rain on the already battered islands.
Dorian has damaged houses and other buildings, leaving many people without adequate shelter. As many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed in the Bahamas. On the island of Abaco, extensive flooding has contaminated wells with saltwater, creating an urgent need for clean water.
Chiran Livera, Operations Manager for the Canadian Red Cross said, “We are starting to get a sense of the damage and are supporting the Red Cross volunteers on the ground. We know that relief assistance will continue for the next few days as we access all affected people and we are mobilizing international assistance to reinforce the local Red Cross response. Our immediate focus is on life saving assistance – food, water, shelter and health.”
Communication lines into Abaco and the Grand Bahamas are down, where Dorian has made the most impact. This is further complicated by the fact that Dorian has slowed down dramatically – it is now only moving at about five miles per hour, so it will take another one to two days to clear the Bahamas.
Hundreds of trained Bahamas Red Cross volunteers are mobilized to help people living in the path of the Hurricane, and will namely provide about 500 families with emergency shelter assistance, including tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets and solar cell phone chargers, thanks to financial support from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The same 500 families will be provided with unconditional cash grants, to help repair and replace what they have lost, while also helping to bolster local economies in the short term.
The American Red Cross is also preparing for the hurricane’s landfall which could potentially impact millions of people. As many as 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina may need emergency shelter. Hundreds of trained volunteers and relief supplies have been mobilized in the United States and the American Red Cross is urging anyone in the storm’s path to get ready now.
Current information about ways to find a shelter if you’re residing in the United States can be found at redcross.org.
The Red Cross is working to coordinate emergency relief efforts and get help to people in affected areas as quickly as possible. The Canadian Red Cross is in close contact with Red Cross partners and is prepared to provide support in the form of personnel and essential items, if requested.
Canadians wishing to support this response, can donate to the Hurricane Dorian Appeal. Money raised will enable the Red Cross to provide relief and recovery activities in response to this disaster.