More than 1,600 evacuees in New Providence shelters


Deputy Chief Reporter

MORE than 1,600 people are in emergency shelters in New Providence, according to the National Emergency Management Agency, as Hurricane Dorian’s decimation forced 4,800 people to be evacuated to the capital.

Earlier Monday officials said there are six shelters in Nassau with a total capacity of 1,676. However last night, NEMA said in the aftermath of Dorian, 1,676 people have had to utilise shelters in New Providence. NEMA did not make clear if additional shelter space was brought online to address the need. 

Up to press time, officials said at the Kendal Isaacs Gym proper, 1,224 people are being sheltered. Two tents set up there are housing 194 people.

Fox Hill Community Centre now has 202 evacuees, while Calvary Haitian Baptist Church is housing 96 people.

In the Salvation Army, which can hold 40 people, so far 30 people have gone there.

Pilgrim Baptist Temple can house 100 people, but up to this point only 95 evacuees are there, while Grants Town Seventh Day Adventist Church is housing 29 people. It has a capacity of 40.

The immediate needs of evacuees have largely been tended to by groups of private citizens in a coordinated effort to provide relief.

The Tribune visited a large-scale relief operation at Odyssey Aviation yesterday. Stocked in its hangar were a large variety of items like generators, gasoline containers, flashlights, food, beverages and clothing.

Medical professionals were also on hand to attend to the needs of the sick.

Odyssey President Steven Kelly said around 2,000 people had been processed through his facility. Given the magnitude of these efforts, he urged people to give their time and whatever else they could to assist evacuees.

He said: “All of this facility you see here is owned and operated by Odyssey Aviation. All of the folks you see in here are volunteers from the local community from the civic organisations like Rotary, Kiwanis - HeadKnowles is a big charity group that has been providing a lot of the food stuff and stuff you see.

“All of this has been coming from all over the world. There is stuff from Canada, stuff from America and local stuff that’s being donated. It’s just a community effort plain and simple,” he said. 

The hangar also has a “comfort station”.

“They come off of the plane. They are immediately provided with water or Gatorade or some sort of nutrition. There are sandwiches and other stuff that are manned all day long,” Mr Kelly said. 

“Then they are processed through the evacuee arrival desk if they have passports or identification we are scanning all of that in for social services. So we will have a huge database that social services will use.”

Personnel also separate evacuees based on whether they have relatives in New Providence and whether they need shelter and/or transportation.

Hundreds of volunteers are manning the centre.