N Touch
Tuesday 21 January 2020
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A Caribbean emergency

THOUGH HURRICANE Dorian has passed, the full extent of the death and destruction in the Bahamas is only now fully emerging. About two dozen people are so far known to be dead, and vast areas of the Caricom country have been decimated, according to Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis.

All must now rally behind the country and assist in whatever way they can.

Aerial footage has revealed how Dorian wreaked unprecedented havoc.

“Oh my God,” a passenger can be heard saying in footage shared by the BBC as a helicopter flies over to survey the scene. At Marsh Harbour alone, streets were submerged, buildings beheaded, entire communities wiped out.

“It’s just total devastation,” said survivor Alicia Cook. “There is nothing left in Marsh Harbour. No homes. No banks. No gas stations no hardware stores. It’s just total...everything is gone. People are starting to panic, pillaging, looting, trying to shoot people for food and water.”

Minnis said the Bahamas was facing “one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history.” But the crisis is as much a regional and international concern as it is national. That much is clear given the swift intervention of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the US Agency for International Development), the British Royal Navy, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, the Pan American Health Organisation, and dozens of NGOs.

Locally, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management has been liaising with CDEMA to find out what is needed. The Office of the Prime Minister is also appealing to citizens to extend aid where necessary. Monetary donations can be made to the Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund account through RBC Royal Bank, or FCB (account number is: 261-555-9). TT Red Cross Society has also launched a Bahamas Emergency Appeal at Republic Bank (180-482-517-101). Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon has said the TT Manufacturers Association has been engaged. All of the initiatives should be supported.

The Bahamas disaster has also triggered a wave of humanitarian activism among ordinary citizens, many of whom have begun to use their social media pages to promote and encourage others to be charitable.

This tide of activity is encouraging, reminding us that while many still cling to insular nationalism there is an increasing segment of the population that is ready and willing to do what is right in times of crisis. The IFRC’s projection of US$3 million in needed aid is likely to be a conservative figure given the extent of the damage being unearthed.

Meanwhile, Dorian has continued to demonstrate just how unusual weather patterns have become. Its quick progression through the various storm phases, which contrasted with its slow egress along its trajectory, has now been complicated by its widening in scale. This is a hurricane that is not likely to be forgotten by any standard.

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