Minister of State with Responsibility for Disaster Risk Reduction the Hon. Myles Laroda thanked the United States government for its “very generous donation” of 28 generators, which will be installed with automatic transfer switches, carbon monoxide sensors and fire extinguishers.
This support package costs approximately $600,000 and the generators will be deployed to shelters in Abaco, Andros, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Exuma and Mayaguana, the Minister of State said during a ceremony for handover of emergency generators and transportable reverse osmosis systems to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at the agency’s headquarters on Monday, March 13, 2023.
“The determination of which islands will be supplied with generators was made following inspections in 2022 of the 143 facilities that served as hurricane and emergency shelters throughout The Bahamas.
“The US Northern Command has also partnered with the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) to secure a generator for the Hurricane Shelter/Community Centre that is currently under construction in Abaco.” He explained that in addition to the generators that are being donated, the US Northern Command is also donating six easy transportable Reverse Osmosis Systems. These systems will allow for the rapid production of potable water for general use, in remote areas.
The Minister of State said NEMA and agencies of the United States government, such as US Northern Command and USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, have enjoyed a strong partnership for many years. The focus of the partnership has been in programs of capacity building, and knowledge exchange in the areas of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
He explained that the capacity building initiatives have included workshops and seminars for Family Island Administrators, Local Government Council Members and other members of the Disaster Committee.
Additionally, it allowed for training and equipping of teams in 12 Family Islands to be able to conduct Flood Water Rescue operations in various communities, or to conduct rescues for downed aircraft in marsh areas, or boaters in distress in sight of land.
Further, the programs have allowed for training and equipping teams in seven islands to be in a position to respond to community fires to minimize the chances of their getting out of control and becoming disasters. Teams have also been trained as first responders and train-the- trainers in Community Emergency Response Teams or CERT.
The Minister of State said in September of 2020 The Bahamas was the recipient of the United States generosity by way of:
· A mobile shelter facility valued over $3.1 million to provide for rapid and efficient sheltering to affected persons in any community of The Bahamas;
· Twelve – 16 feet medical Whaly rescue boats that are outfitted with 40 HP Yamaha engines, safety stretchers, life vests and 20-foot trailers valued at $151,778.70;
· Emergency Relief Supplies valued at $45,000 to augment supplies in the three Emergency Relief Warehouses that are situated Great Inagua, Grand Bahama and at the Coral Harbour Base. All three of these warehouses were gifts from the United States by way of the US Northern Command; and
· Materials valued at $71,000 have been provided to repair 13 churches in Grand Bahama and Abaco that are used as hurricane shelters and were damaged during hurricane Dorian.
Also in attendance at the handover were Lance Posey, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy; Jon Smart, International Engagement and Acquisition Division Chief US Northern Command; Carl Smith, Permanent Secretary and Captain Stephen Russell, Director of NEMA.
Mr. Posey said, “This a sign of our commitment to preparedness, which will enable effective response and recovery.
“As close friends and partners to The Bahamas, the US government, US North Command and the US people do not believe in simply showing up after disaster strikes. We know that the work done now is just as important as the work that is yet to come.”
He added, “We are here now and we will always be here ready to help side-by-side with our Bahamian neighbours.”
By Llonella Gilbert/Bahamas Information Services