As pictures of Bahamas devastation emerge, Red Cross issues urgent appeal
Shelter, clean water priorities in wake of ‘catastrophic’ hurricane
SAN JUAN – With access to the battered islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas slowly beginning to open up, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has started rolling out a major emergency relief effort, it said Wednesday.
Saying that initial assessments confirm widespread devastation to the islands and that authorities estimate that approximately 76,000 people have been affected by Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall as a Category 5, and then hovered over the island nation for the better part of two days, the Bahamas Red Cross/IFRC relief effort will focus on addressing the needs of some 4,400 children under 15, as well as approximately 1,600 older people.
Stephen McAndrew, IFRC’s Deputy Regional Director for the Americas, said:
“Now that Dorian is moving away from the Bahamas, there is a window of opportunity to save lives and begin to ease the suffering of these communities.
“We have had a rapid assessment and response team on standby since the beginning of the week – they will move in today to join our previously deployed team members already in Nassau. We also have a first flight of relief supplies being loaded at our logistics hub in Panama – it can move as soon as the airports are up and running.
“Speed is of the essence.”
The IFRC appeal is seeking about $3.2 million. It focuses primarily on providing short- and mid-term shelter assistance to families, as well as replacing lost and necessary household goods such as lamps, cellphone chargers and tarpaulins.
Red Cross volunteers and staff will also distribute hot meals and food rations to people who may have gone without food in days, before shifting their focus to distributing cash grants.
“This approach gives people the agency to make their own decisions about what they need, and helps inject cash into local economies.” the IFRC said.
Other interventions include health, psychological support, water, sanitation and hygiene, “and activities designed to prevent and respond to violence against vulnerable groups, including sexual and gender-based violence.”
The IFRC added that it has already released $509,600 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to ensure an immediate supply of cash for the response teams on the ground.
The Bahamas Red Cross is seeking cash donations as well as the following items: non-perishable goods, baby supplies, cleaning items and bedding. Its website, however, was “temporarily unable to service” requests “as it exceeded resource limit,” nevertheless, donations can be made via the American Red Cross, at www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-dorian-donations.