By Holly Baker, American Red Cross delegate in The Bahamas
In the 12 months since Hurricane Dorian came through The Bahamas and left a trail of destruction behind, the American Red Cross has been there to support the Bahamas Red Cross. We provided lifesaving aid in the storm’s immediate aftermath and have since transitioned to long-term assistance for families still reeling from Dorian.
Within weeks of the storm’s forceful strike, the Red Cross handed out cash cards of more than $3,600 to families most deeply affected. Our teams delivered more than $11.2 million in cash cards to over 3,000 families so they could spend the funds however they needed: to buy clothes and food or to replace items destroyed by the hurricane. Cash enabled families to choose for themselves the most critical items they needed to start their recovery.
The Red Cross got into the places the storm ripped up and began cleaning up the mess. By funding the removal of 24,000 cubic meters of storm debris on the island of Abaco, we led the way for more help to arrive on the islands hit hardest. Basic needs were addressed for the thousands of people displaced or unable to go home. The Red Cross helped distribute more than 573,000 hot meals in the storm’s aftermath, thanks to our partnership with World Central Kitchen. We are still supporting Bahamas Red Cross food distribution to people in need throughout the year.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Red Cross has funded water distribution points on the island of Grand Bahama where as many as 41,000 people came to fill up their bottles, jugs and other containers with free, clean drinking water after the hurricane destroyed the island’s own source. Thousands of gallons of water are available every single day.
For the hundreds of homes that did not escape the physical damage caused by the storm, the Red Cross is providing cash grants of up to $11,500 to families. For many, this cash grant means getting a new roof or fixing broken windows and damaged walls or repairing electrical. Beyond repairs, the Red Cross has provided over half a million dollars in rental subsidies, which have helped hundreds of families find a safe place to stay over the past year.
To help communities gain strength, the Red Cross is also providing cash grants to small and medium-sized local businesses strained by the disaster. This support has gone beyond disaster recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic has further plunged so many of the same small businesses into an unfamiliar and uncertain future. The Red Cross has supported more than 180 businesses so far with more than $760,000 in grants—as well as businesses training opportunities and mentorship.
It has been one year since Hurricane Dorian left a scar on the beautiful Bahamian islands. Red Cross workers have never stopped helping those seeking assistance from that storm. Because investing in communities and disaster response capabilities before a storm hits saves lives and saves funds, the American Red Cross is working hard to help the Bahamas Red Cross to be ready for the next storm. An active 2020 hurricane season has already brought the threat of new storms and the Red Cross has expanded its workforce and elevated emergency planning and preparedness with specialized training and upgraded. Red Cross workers now have satellite phones to help the islands maintain communication even when power and cell service is knocked out. New laptops, flatbed trucks and forklifts have helped the Red Cross be better prepared for incoming disasters and be able to coordinate the movement of people and supplies to always be ready for disasters big and small.
American Red Cross in the Bahamas The American Red Cross has been working in The Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian hit in September 2019, supporting the Bahamas Red Cross and the global network of Red Cross and Red Crescent network to distribute emergency relief items, food, water and millions of dollars in cash--in addition to repair work and rental assistance to people affected. Thanks to the amazing generosity of the American public, the Red Cross is able to continue providing critical support to families still working to overcome the intense challenges presented by a hurricane. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Cross continues to keep safety the main priority and is adapting our programs and efforts to follow all health guidelines while still delivering our mission. For more information on Hurricane Dorian recovery, visit www.redcross.org/dorian.