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Senate updated on post-Dorian situation in The Bahamas

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, September 14, 2019

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Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has commended the work being done by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Disaster Assistance and Recovery Team in the rehabilitation efforts in The Bahamas after the passage of Hurricane Dorian.

Senator Johnson Smith told the Senate yesterday that, with Jamaica designated as Caricom's focal point for disaster response in the north-western Caribbean, 120 members of the military team have been assisting in key areas, in terms of constructing temporary shelters, logistics and other relevant activities.

She thanked the Canadian Government for providing an aircraft to assist the team with transportation, and the evacuation efforts in which they have been involved.

Senator Johnson Smith also informed the Senate that cash donations are being accepted by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Bahamian Government. They can be deposited with the National Commercial Bank (NCB) in Jamaica through a local Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management account #212-387-304 named “forthebahamasrelieffund”.

Jamaicans who wish to make family contact with relatives and friends in The Bahamas can also call or WhatsApp #876-472-3584.

The minister heaped praises on Jamaica's honorary consul in The Bahamas, Terrel A Butler, for working “night and day” in monitoring and helping to identify relatives and friends whom they have been unable to contact, as well as co-ordinating the relief effort with Jamaicans on the ground.

She that with Butler's assistance 32 Jamaicans who have been residing in the hard-hit Abaco and Grand Bahama islands have been collected, and the ministry is working closely with her to determine what assistance they require, including obtaining travel documents or communicating with relatives and friends in Jamaica.

“With her help we can report that some of the persons about whom families and friends are concerned have been located and efforts to locate others are continuing,” Johnson Smith said.

She noted that about 21 Jamaicans have already been evacuated from the hardest-hit areas, and food and other supplies are reaching them as well as Bahamians in need of assistance. She also thanked the Sandals and Breezes hotel chains for their support.

“We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming days and weeks… It is moments like these that we see the very best of ourselves,” the minister stated.

“It is a timely reminder to all of us how fragile our existence is,” leader of opposition business in the Senate, Senator Donna Scott Mottley responded.

She commended the Government and the private sector, as well as all the entities that have been cooperating for their involvement in the recovery process.

She said that this disaster was evidence of the need to recognise that “climate change is a very real thing”.


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