Remarks by Hon. Iram Lewis Minister of State in The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Recponstruction

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September 21, 2020

The Hon. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Colleague Ministers

U. S. Charge d’Affaires, Mr. John McNamara

Commander Kevin Self, Senior Defence Attaché

Ms. Jena Dagget, Programme Coordinator for US Nothern Command

Mr. Brad Stewart, Project Manager

Representatives of Regulus Global the suppliers of the shelters

Mr. Carl Smith, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Grand Bahama

Captain Stephen Russell, Director of NEMA

Senior Government Officials

Invited Guests

Members of the media

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning,

The beautiful archipelago of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas stretches over 100,000 square miles of waters in the Atlantic Ocean. As such, the islands are in the path of tropical storms and hurricanes that usually form in the Atlantic Ocean between the months of June and November.

There is a long history of hurricane activity and extreme events in The Bahamas, with hurricane Dorian, which struck the northern islands of Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Abaco Cays in September of 2019, being the latest and most destructive to date.

Many countries, non-governmental organizations and individuals have reached out to The Bahamas over the years in assisting us with preparing for and to responding to disasters. One of our major allies has been the United States of America and today we are gathered, one again, to accept and give thanks for their very generous donation of a variety of disaster equipment and supplies that value approximately $3.84 million.

The Bahamas and the National Emergency Management Agency and Agencies of the United States Government through its Embassy in Nassau have enjoyed a strong partnership for many years. The focus of the partnership have been in programs of capacity building, and knowledge exchange in the areas of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

The capacity building initiatives have included workshops and seminars for Family Administrators, and Local Government Council Members and other members of the Disaster Committee. Additionally, it allowed for training and equipping of teams in twelve (12) Family Islands to be able to conduct Flood Water Rescue operations in various communities, or to conduct rescues for down aircraft in marsh areas, or boaters in distress in sight of land. Further, the programs have allowed for training and equipping teams in seven (7) islands to be in a position to respond to community fires to minimise the chances of them getting out of control and becoming disasters.

Teams has also been trained as first responders and train-the- trainers in Community Emergency Response Teams or CERT.

Over the past five (5) months, the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management & Reconstruction has been in dialogue with officials from the US Embassy in Nassau, and other US Agencies such as the United States Northern Command, to ascertain how the US Government can assist The Bahamas as we address our on-going preparedness for the hurricanes.

These discussions have culminated in the following donations which we officially accept today: Twelve (12) 16 feet medical Whaly rescue boats that are outfitted with 40 HP Yahama engines, safety stretchers, life vests and 20 foot trailers. This total package of 12 boats, 12 trailers, 12 engines, 12 stretchers and 144 life vests is valued at $151,778.70.

Emergency Relief Supplies valued at $45,000 to augment supplies in the three (3) Emergency Relief Warehouses that are situated Great Inagua, Grand Bahama and here at the Coral Harbour Base. All three of these warehouses were gifts from the United States by way of the US Northern Command. All of the supplies were purchased from a local, Bahamian business.

Approximately $45,000 worth of personal protection equipment (PPE’s) to guard against COVID-19 and to support the shelter programme in Family Islands. The PPE’s were also sourced from a local Bahamian company.

Communication support supplies of 158 batteries for Motorola Handheld Radios that are used in our inter-agency trunking communication system. These batteries are valued at $51,000.

Materials valued at $71,000 have been provided to repair thirteen (13) Churches in Grand Bahama and Abaco that are used as hurricane shelters and suffered damages during hurricane Dorian.

A mobile shelter facility to provide for rapid and efficient sheltering to affected persons in any community of The Bahamas. The shelter package that is valued at $3,116, 470.53 contains

40 - ten (10) man tents;

40 – 5 ton Air conditioning for tents

400 cots;

34 – 330 gallon water carriers (totes & cages)

4 – 125 Kw John Deere generators

3 - mobile container shower sets

3 – mobile container toilet sets

2 – container Flex Kitchens

4 – Single door container office space

18 Custom bladder tanks or grey water tanks

A variety of fittings and other accessories

Undoubtedly, these donations of equipment and supplies will go a long way in helping to enhance our emergency response efforts and by extension help provide relief to affected Bahamians, as well as visitors, most of whom are US citizens.

We must continue our efforts to ensure that we do all that is possible to better prepare for any disaster and better our response capabilities.

Since the passage of hurricane Dorian we at the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management & Reconstruction, the National Emergency Management Agency and Disaster Reconstruction Authority have been working assiduously to address all aspects of the disaster management cycle, namely preparation, mitigation, response, recovery and reconstruction.

This is an on-going work that necessitates collaboration and partnerships among and between local and international entities and we welcome all to join us in this effort.

As I close, I want to remind all citizens and residents of the Bahamas that we are in the peak of the hurricane season and we not to let our hurricane preparedness guard down.

I thank you and have a wonderful day.

News date : 09/21/2020    Category : About Bahamians, Press Releases

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