by The Freeport News

The Grand Bahama Port Authority’s (GBPA) Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation (GBDRF) has made significant progress in bringing relief to the island post-Hurricane Dorian.

GBPA Vice President Henry St. George, Co-Chairman of the Grand Bahama Development Company explained that the foundation is a GBPA initiative, started and seeded by GBPA, but powered by the GB community with a team of volunteers.

“We are a U.S. and Bahamas registered charitable organization governed by humanitarian principles and transparency,” he added, during a recent press conference updating the public on the company’s restoration efforts.

St. George noted, it was those humanitarian principles that were utilized when Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September of this year.

The Category 5 storm made landfall on Grand Bahama September 1, approaching the northeastern side of the island. Its powerful surges caused massive flooding that put about 70 percent of Grand Bahama underwater. Many businesses, government buildings and homes were affected, some of which were completely destroyed. The most affected areas being the eastern and central portion of the island, particularly Sweeting’s Cay, High Rock, Freetown, Pelican Point, McLean’s Town, east of the Casuarina Bridge, the Lucaya area and the DownTown and Queens Highway areas. The airport was also severely damaged.

A great number of residents lost their homes, material possessions, some even lost their lives and loved ones.

Since Dorian’s passing various local, national and international organizations have dispatched teams to Grand Bahama to offer relief assistance to the residents.

St. George noted that after the storm passed, they sent a team of search and rescue operators and first responders to East End.

According to St. George, they were the first people, beside the Coast Guard choppers, into McLean’s Town and Sweetings Cay.

“They brought relief, medical supplies, and support. They cleared 12 miles of road to the east and continue to liaise with local administrators to assist with the needs,” he said.

In Freeport the GBDRF set up a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse to import relief supplies, which was distributed via a network of 130 pastors and churches led by Pastor Eddie Victor.

“We use a customized WhatsApp application form for each pastor to allow us to fulfill specific needs ahead of time for collection. Two weeks ago, we expanded our relief programme to include non-food items such as generators, blow up mattresses, tents and tarps,” he said, noting that they are assisting thousands of people on a daily basis.

“We are extremely proud of the work of our team and continue to be amazed by the resilience of the members of this community under such uniquely challenging circumstances,” St. George said.

As conditions have stabilized, the foundation has begun its planning for the rebuilding phase. GBDRF will be a very active participant in the next phase and will use GBPA BDS data to complete its needs assessment, to ensure the most vulnerable are assisted first.

St. George finally advised anyone who is interested in lending a hand, to please use gbdisasterrelief.org for all their information.