Recovery efforts in the Bahamas

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday the 6th of September, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. First up, recovery efforts in the Bahamas.

Dorian slammed into the Caribbean islands over the weekend as a massive Category 5 hurricane. Although it weakened after making landfall, it lingered over the northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama for nearly two days. The storm first brought a surge of water over the islands and then dumped 3 feet of rain as it churned overhead.

REICHARD: At least 20 people have died but that number is expected to rise. Churches in areas not affected by the storm stand ready to help, along with international relief organizations.

Joining us now to talk about those recovery efforts is Jeff Palmer. He’s the CEO of Baptist Global Response.

Good morning!

JEFF PALMER, GUEST: And good morning to you! Thanks for having us on the show.

REICHARD: Tell us first of all what you’re hearing from partners on the ground about the damage in the Bahamas.

PALMER: Just really huge devastation on the first island—the Abaco Island—and then over into the Grand Bahama island as well. Folks have dealt with hurricanes there in the past. They happen all the time. This one was a little bit different because it settled on the country and just settled over them for 36 hours to 48 hours. So, a lot of evident need, and we’re in the process of trying to get some good assessment.

REICHARD: Initial relief efforts are going to focus on immediate needs like food, water, and shelter. What about long-term recovery?

PALMER: Well, it’s going to be both and. When you have this type of a disaster—the immediate needs are going to be the food, water, temporary shelter, hygiene kits, things like that. Those are going to be quickly met, thankfully. And then the medium term needs are getting some temporary shelter up. And then the long term is going to be rebuild—especially on the first island where it was hardest hit with the wind and then you had more of the water damage on the second island. 

They’re saying there’s enough food and water in the Bahamas to actually take care of the needs. But, I mean, they’re not on those islands. They’re on different places. So a lot of it is transportation. How do we get it there? How do we deliver it that last mile to where the people are? So that’s one of the things we’re already starting to look at. But they’re saying sanitation and shelter needs are going to be the long-term thing. What do we do about the water systems? The waste systems? And then just the hundreds and thousands of homes and structures that were destroyed? 

REICHARD: What about local churches in the Bahamas. Is there a strong network to step in and provide recovery assistance, both material and spiritual?

PALMER: Absolutely, absolutely. Bahama has a very strong church base there and a lot of evangelicals and other groups that are there. So that’s one of the blessings there. They actually helped us respond in the Irma response, a year ago or so. And so we’re already working with them and then working through them to government and others to find those points of distribution that we can be part of. And there’s some great church partners over there. They’re going to need a lot of help. We want to see success with the churches, of course, and help them help their own people so at the end of the day people are helped and local folks there are the ones that kind of have the—they receive the connections and the good that comes out of all of this response.

REICHARD: Jeff Palmer is CEO of Baptist Global Response. Thanks so much for joining us today!

PALMER: Well, thank you for having me and I appreciate the time to be able to share what God’s doing. And, again, pray for the folks that are in the Bahamas.

(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) A couple embraces on a road destroyed by Hurricane Dorian, as they walk to the town of High Rock to try and find their relatives in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, in Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. 

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