Disaster relief

Bahamas’ death toll expected to reach staggering final count

Bahamas’ death toll expected to reach staggering final count

A week after Hurricane Dorian ripped through the Bahamas, Rotary charities have been involved working together to co-ordinate relief efforts in the stricken islands.

The Rotary-based charity, Aquabox, is planning to send out a consignment of water filters to the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

The category five storm, which reached speeds of up to 185mph, caused devastation last week in the northern Bahamas, and later made landfall in the US State of North Carolina.

The International Red Cross fears 45% of homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos – some 13,000 properties – were severely damaged or destroyed.

Parts of the Bahamas received up to 35in (89cm) of rain, leaving vast areas of it flooded.

The Island of Great Abaco is virtually uninhabitable, with a rising death toll, no water, power or food, and militias formed to prevent looting, local media report.

The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering.”

The BBC report that aerial images over the Abacos show mile upon mile of destruction, with roofs torn off, scattered debris, overturned cars, shipping containers and boats, and high water levels.

On Thursday, Bahamas’ Health Minister, Duane Sands, warned of a “staggering” final count. The official death toll is 30, but this is expected to rise further.

“The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,” he told local radio.

Officials are sending morticians and 200 body bags to the Abaco Islands, the worst-hit part of the archipelago, reported the BBC.

Dr Ian Norton, who manages the World Health Organization (WHO)’s emergency medical teams, also told reporters that he was also “really worried” about the potential death toll.

They also reports that flooding had rendered Grand Bahama’s main hospital unusable, and a field hospital would need to be set up in its place.

Several patients have been airlifted from Marsh Harbour Medical Centre in the Abacos, according to the Associated Press news agency, but the site is still being run as a shelter.

And the only international airport in Grand Bahama has also been devastated, causing major problems for international aid charities.

The Derbyshire-based charity Aquabox is one of several organisations looking to provide help in the Bahamas.

According to Roger Cassidy, chair of trustees and a member of Wirksworth Rotary, they have moved swiftly in planning how best to respond to this major disaster.

“Aquabox has been in contact with the Rotary clubs in Nassau and Freetown (capital of Grand Bahama)  as well as linking up with local companies, based on Grand Bahama, in order to carry out a needs assessment and determine the most effective way to support the impacted island communities,” he reported.

“We have also been working with our fellow Rotary water charity, Water Survival Box, to share intelligence and assess whether a joint response would have a bigger impact.

“From these discussions, we understand that there is a great need for safe drinking water, particularly in the eastern end of the Grand Bahama and the outlying islands notably, Abaco.”

We will be speaking to our local contacts and other organisations to understand whether our emergency tents, tarpaulins, tools and other items will be needed and appropriate for families in the Bahamas.”

Roger reported that with the majority of airports closed on the islands, they were working with partners and Rotarians on the ground to find alternative options as they seek to build a secure supply and distribution route into Eastern Grand Bahama and Abaco.

He added: “To overcome these transportation challenges, we are exploring a plan to send aid to southern Florida, where one of our corporate partners has offered to provide onward transport to the Bahamian islands and assist with the distribution of the water filters.”

A consignment of Aqua 12’s and Community Filters has been prepared at the Aquabox depot in Derbyshire and this consignment will meet the water needs of up to 8,000 people.

“This consignment will be despatched from the depot, once we are satisfied that we have a secure supply and distribution route to the communities worst affected by Hurricane Dorian,” explained Roger.

“Following this initial shipment, we are already provisionally planning for further shipments of Aquabox humanitarian aid (Gold Boxes and additional Aquafilters) to be sent to the worst affected communities as families begin to rebuild their lives after this catastrophic event.”

If districts, clubs and individuals are able to help with this Aquabox disaster response, donations can be made via the website and also Facebook, or by cheque to: Aquabox, PO Box 5398, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 4ZP.

Another Rotary-charity, Disaster Aid International, is already on the ground in the Bahamas, and have set up temporary shelters for those who have been evacuated from their homes.

The charity, one of whose partners is Disaster Aid UK & Ireland, has received thanks for its work from the Rotary clubs of the Bahamas who, on social media, posted images of the tents with the message: “Your generous donations and support help us to provide temporary shelter from Disaster Aid International to evacuees.

“They will not have to sleep exposed to the elements tonight. Please continue to give so we can continue to work.”

A team from ShelterBox was due to arrive in the Bahamas this weekend. In a statement on its website, the charity reported: “We will be speaking to our local contacts and other organisations to understand whether our emergency tents, tarpaulins, tools and other items will be needed and appropriate for families in the Bahamas.”

Disaster Aid USA are on scene with several response volunteers.

The Rotary GBI Disaster Recovery Trust (formerly the Donations Trust) has reopened its Caribbean Hurricane Appeal following Hurricane Dorian.

The Disaster Recovery Trust is a registered charity, established in 2007, which collates donations and makes grants to Rotary projects working to rebuild communities in the longer term through sustainable development projects.

If you would like to support the Disaster Recovery Trust’s appeal, you can:

  • Send a cheque – please note that despite the Trust’s recent name change, cheques should still be made payable to Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Donations Trust, Kinwarton Road, Alcester, B49 6PB
  • Use our online payment option through our Virgin Money Giving website
  • Contact the Finance department for bank transfer information

Rotary clubs are eligible to apply for funding from the Disaster Recovery Trust, with more information available within My Rotary. Please note this area is only accessible to Rotary members.

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Click here to learn more about how Rotarians are responding in the Bahamas.

Helping the most vulnerable in the world.