Monday, January 13, 2020
The devastation left by Hurricane Dorian stunned the nation. Lives lost, homes and businesses wiped out, thousands forced to abandon the places where they have lived all their lives.
But amid all the tears one thing has shone out from the debris fields of Abaco and Grand Bahamas - the amazing generosity and eagerness to help from an army of volunteers, very many of them from overseas.
Among the first ashore at Marsh Harbour were members of Britain’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Their unhappy task each year to follow hurricanes as they cross the Atlantic and to be first on hand wherever they make landfall to provide whatever immediate assistance they can.
In the hours and days that followed hundreds more disaster relief agencies and individuals poured into The Bahamas to lend a hand. Many are still here quietly working away at trying to piece Abaco and Grand Bahama back together.
At the same time many nations opened their purse strings to pledge us financial assistance - the money the government and the insurance companies don’t have to pay for all the estimated $3.4 billion damage Dorian left behind.
Who can forget the efforts of the World Central Kitchen which has produced millions of meals from Dorian volunteers. The inflatable temporary hospital in Grand Bahama - just two of the incredible efforts a long list of those who came to our aid from banks, cruise lines, countries, churches, children, Hollywood stars and world famous musicians.
Just this weekend Health Minister Dr Duane Sands took delivery from International Medical Corp of a new mobile unit which will bring medical services back to East Grand Bahama.
Read today’s tragic story of 85-year-old Virginia Mosvold who with her family is now living in Vancouver trying to rebuild their lives. Mrs Mosvold spent two days up to her neck in water inside her Freeport home when Dorian hit.
Her story is like so many others, her challenge the same - to somehow find the money from somewhere to get their lives back on track.
Tens of millions have been promised for the recovery operation but sadly the mountainous scale of the problem means what has been pledged so far simply isn’t enough.
Today at Baha Mar the Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis will lead the nation’s new appeal to the world - Can you help us?
Already nearly 300 local and international delegates, including representatives of governments, financial institutions and multilateral agencies have signed up for the pledging conference.
Area by area the government will outline what’s needed for what it is planning that will produce a “stronger, more resilient Bahamas”.
We wish Dr Minnis well in his address today. Since he took office there cannot have been a more important time for him to get the message across - one that really will change the lives of thousands of people if the conference goes as well as we all must hope.