On September 1st and the 66 hours that followed, the strongest and slowest hurricane to hit the Bahamas pummeled the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco. No government could have been prepared for the scale of destruction Hurricane Dorian left in its wake. Thankfully the response from nearby citizens, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) has been significant and continues to strengthen under the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) lead.
Like with many large disasters, an already tremendously complicated logistics situation has been further complicated with the need to reconcile the needs on the ground with what aid has been delivered.
With more than 13,000 homes damaged or destroyed and 76,000 people impacted, the need is immense. A significant response is underway by Airlink and 24 of our partner NGOs rushing to distribute high-priority aid –items like food, water, medicine and fuel– and their responders providing medical treatment, debris clearing, infrastructure repair and other essential services.
I traveled to Nassau, Bahamas last week to take part in Airlink’s response and coordinate with partners and airlines using the capital as a hub to deliver aid to the most heavily impacted communities. Our partners rely on Airlink to help them overcome logistical barriers to response and find the quickest and most efficient ways to meet the needs of those affected.
We recognize those needs will evolve over time as people begin the overwhelming task of rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. This is a time of great uncertainty for disaster survivors. Where will they live? Will they find work? Will their community return?
What is for certain is that the level of damage and destruction that occurred will require a sustained effort from a broad group of humanitarian responders as well as the real “first responders” in this crisis – the Bahamians themselves who are known for their indomitable spirit. The role of the latter we cannot begin to understand, only appreciate, admire and support.For Airlink, this means finding ways to help NGOs do what they do best — provide specialized assistance working in coordination with, and empowering, affected communities. Airlink’s mission is to support communities in crisis through the power and speed of aviation. And that’s exactly what we’ll do here. But we will need your help to do it, of course.
Working together, Airlink, our donors and airline partners will continue to move relief teams and supplies for partner organizations responding to Hurricane Dorian for months to come. The sprint to bring life-saving assistance to the islands will evolve into a marathon to help them return to normal conditions and ideally improve upon them.
This is a massive responsibility and one we proudly step up to accept. The passion and gratitude I encountered from local Bahamians and the NGOs we have transported, was truly energizing and inspiring.
We are clearly making an impact. That’s why we do what we do — often in the background of a response –.lending a hand to those skilled at reaching people in dire need of help.
Thank you for helping to make this possible.