Ja deploys disaster relief teams to The Bahamas

Ja deploys disaster relief teams to The Bahamas

Senior staff reporter

Friday, September 06, 2019

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THE Jamaican Government yesterday deployed disaster relief teams to the Hurricane-ravaged islands of The Bahamas to assist with regional relief and recovery efforts there.

Making the announcement at a press conference at Jamaica House, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said an advance team was deployed yesterday morning, and that by evening a full disaster assistance team would be dispatched.

He pointed out that the team comprises the same personnel who went to Dominica in 2017 after Hurricane Maria hit that Eastern Caribbean island.

“They are very well-trained, very well-experienced disaster assistance and recovery team. They will be air-lifted for us in partnership with our Canadian friends. We will be air-lifting both men and equipment so Jamaica will have presence in The Bahamas and we will be at the disposal of the Bahamian Government if they require any further assistance,” Prime Minister Holness said.

Jamaica has responsibility under the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency for the Northern Caribbean. Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Rocky Meade said the disaster assistance team has been on standby since it became clear that The Bahamas was going to be hit by Hurricane Dorian, which has been blamed for at least 23 deaths so far after slamming into Great Abacos Island on Sunday before hovering over Grand Bahama on Monday for more than 24 hours.

“We received today the formal invitation to support... we are going to send out small aircraft with an advanced team led by Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Sterling,” he told journalists. He said sufficient resources will be deployed to sustain the Jamaican mission for up to a month and that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is prepared to send a Coast Guard vessel with additional supplies for troops as well as relief supplies for the Bahamians. The army chief said if there is need for an extended presence in The Bahamas, Jamaica will be committed to providing support as long as the resources are available.

“Certainly some of the immediate things will be to help in setting up temporary bases for not just us, but the Bahamian Coast Guard to function from, to assist in additional rescues, to help with recovery, to help with route clearances, to help with logistics arrangements including movement and distribution of supplies. This we will do with our other international partners, some of whom are already on location,” he said.

Lieutenant General Meade noted that the Atlantic Hurricane season is only halfway through, and that Jamaica is therefore not deploying its full capacity for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. He said the JDF is reconstituting another team of 100 personnel to be on standby in the event that support is required elsewhere.

“Including, God forbid, we should need that support here in Jamaica... so we always have people on standby. I always ensure that having deployed, there are another set of troupes briefed, tested, medical examination, vaccinated and ready to deploy just in case we have another event,” he said.

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Innis, at a press conference yesterday in Grand Bahama, promised that no effort will be spared in rescuing those who remain in danger, and providing for those who have been left homeless. He has also urged donors and volunteers to do so through charities with proven track records.

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