Rameesha Qazi – Communications Intern
On September 4th 2019, what started as a large tropical storm had grown into a historic and monstrous Category 5 Hurricane, named Dorian, made land contact, flattening large areas of the Bahamas and impacted communities as far north as Nova Scotia.
While it has been a year, and most of the world has moved on and forgotten, recovery efforts are ongoing. At the six month mark, in March 2020, recovery efforts were just as strong as they had been on Day 1 and things were slowly improving – especially with tourism picking up slowly, given that is the main stimulant for the local economy. But then COVID-19 hit and tourism was shut down again, and things took a turn for the worse like they did around the world. The only difference here is that they are still trying to recover from the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Dorian and manage the effects of the global pandemic at the same time.
The damages in the Bahamas is estimated at $3.4 billion. The storm damaged infrastructure and caused massive flooding on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. 43 people were killed and over 76,000 people were affected by the storm. With the damage so extensive, people in the Bahamas were in immediate need of clean water, food and shelter items. GlobalMedic was swift to respond.
Safe water is needed for everything, from drinking to cooking, bathing to healthcare. To address the fact that water was no longer safe to use following storm surges, GlobalMedic immediately deployed our Rapid Response Team with water purification units and the RescUAV Team with drones to provide on the ground assistance. We were able to distribute the following aid to communities in Grand Bahama, Abaco and Nassau:
- 6 large-scale water purification systems
- 4,700+ Family Emergency Kits which contain a household water purification solution, essential hygiene items, oral rehydration salts and solar lights.
- 7 large tents that are being used for clinics, storage, animal shelters, and child friendly spaces
- 300 kg dog food
- Assorted building materials and tools, cooking items, air mattresses
- Assisted with installation of solar panel in Sweetings Cay to power an AquaBoy Pro II water system
- Our RescUAV team has mapped over 4,500 hectares and taken 44,000 pictures in Grand Bahama and over 1,000 hectares and 8,900 images in Abaco which were shared with local officials to help them better assess damage
We also had three main projects on the ground, the first is the Mold Remediation Project. Many houses were filled with water, damaging the drywall and structure of the house, allowing dangerous mold to grow. GlobalMedic supported the creation of the “Mold Busters” consortium, bringing together local entities to streamline the rebuilding process and create jobs. Through this program GlobalMedic was able to fully remediate 180 homes and create more than 45 jobs in our initial program period. This project is still ongoing as the damage was extensive and people still need safe places to live. We are continuing to remediate additional houses in order to get families back in their homes and back to normal life.
The second is the Fishing Boats Project. Fishing is a primary career for many Bahamians and is often the only source of income for families in the eastern region of the island. With the destruction of infrastructure on the island so severe, many could not afford to repair the boats as well as their homes. GlobalMedic hired a local contractor to provide boat repair for these fishermen. We provided all the fibreglass and additional materials through a partnership with Composites Canada. A Composites Canada staff member was also sent to Grand Bahama to fully train the local contractor on the use of the materials sent. GlobalMedic fully repaired the hulls of 37 boats and 5 jobs were created during the first program period. This project is also still ongoing as we are working to ensure that the local economy is able to continue to thrive as it did before Dorian hit. Local fishermen are still able to bring their boats to be repaired through this program and, with our partners at the Rotary Club of Grand Bahama, we are working to get new engines to these fishermen as well.
The third is the Emergency Food Project. GlobalMedic initially delivered over 6,600+ Emergency Food Kits filled with staple ingredients for displaced people in the Bahamas. Packing sites were set up locally, being supported by the ones in Canada, and in the first two months packing was happening 7 days a week. People who needed aid were coming out to help as well, grandmothers who were taking care of small kids would come out to pack while the kids stayed on site to help clean up and provide additional support. As Bahamians continue to deal with the effects of Hurricane Dorian as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, we have recently continued our support through this program, sending an additional 2,600 Emergency Food Kits.
GlobalMedic is proud to be able to support these efforts and strive to continue to do more, while keeping an eye on the current hurricane season that we find ourselves in.