The Bahamas: Hurricane Dorian - Operation Update n° 7 (MDRBS003)


A. Situation Analysis

Description of the disaster

Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas on 1 September 2019 as the strongest Atlantic Hurricane documented to impact a landmass directly. The islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama and the surrounding Cays sustained the worst impacts with homes, public buildings, and other properties swept away or destroyed by massive storm surges. To date, the official overall death toll is 74, with 282 people still unaccounted for. The Government estimates USD 3.4 billion in loss and damages caused by Dorian.

Among the government’s efforts to support people in Abaco and Grand Bahama to recover in the aftermath of the hurricane were:

  • Provision of home repair assistance, debris removal, and reconnection to the main power grid

  • Support for business recovery programmes, educational services, and other social services

  • Support in rebuilding businesses and key infrastructure, including support for small businesses and individual livelihoods

  • Designation of Abaco and Grand Bahama as Economic Recovery Zones with economic concessions such as tax-free food and construction items up to June 2021

  • Disbursement of funds to assist hundreds of micro and small businesses affected by Dorian

  • Support with rent payments to landlords and vouchers to purchase household items for those displaced by Dorian

The after-effects of Hurricane Dorian have also figured largely in 2020/2021 National Budget such as the extension of tax relief for affected areas, balanced against the economic pressure on public coffers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, losses suffered by the tourism and hospitality sector, and increased support for public health spending, unemployment services, food assistance, and other social welfare services.

COVID-19 situation in the Bahamas: The first case of COVID-19 was reported in the Bahamas on 18 March 2020, prompting the government to implement measures to mitigate and prevent the spread of the disease such as night-time curfews, weekend lockdowns, restriction on international travel, limitations on domestic travel and reduced operation times for essential businesses and services. Physical distancing, mandatory face masks, and hand sanitization protocols continue to be in place. The government also updates the general public regularly through press releases and features around the situation and recently, the rollout of the nationwide vaccination programme. Government interventions in the context of COVID-19 include:

  • Insurance pay-outs to people affected by Dorian and COVID-19 by the National Insurance Board

  • Unemployment assistance payments to affected residents in Grand Bahama

  • Provision of meals and food items through the National Feeding Task Force interventions (in which BRCS provided support for months)

In line with government efforts, BRCS has continued to respond with actions to curb the spread of the disease; reduce the psychological impact on people affected; enhance awareness of and encourage good hygiene practices, and provide food and cash grants to mitigate household economic stress. The National Society maintains close coordination with government authorities to support response efforts and is in the process of updating its response plan to the current situation. The BRCS COVID-19 response plan activities are also supported under the IFRC’s global Appeal and are regularly reported on the IFRC GO platform and through IFRC Appeal updates.