Hurricane Dorian Relief: Collaborating to Respond to Urgent Needs and Unique Challenges in the Bahamas
It’s been a week since Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, and our disaster response and engineering teams are now on the ground responding to the islands’ urgent need for clean, safe water. To get the latest updates on our relief efforts, check our Twitter feed and Instagram, where we will share photos, videos, and stories from the field as well and planning and logistics updates from our headquarters.
“Water Mission is working with partners and local municipalities to mobilize a safe water system as quickly as possible. Given the lack of freshwater sources, reverse osmosis is the only guaranteed option to provide access to safe water,” said George C. Greene, IV, president of Water Mission.
Initial assessments revealed that the main sources of drinking water in the hardest hit areas came from rainwater collection systems in individual homes and a municipal system supplied by a deep well on the mainland. In both cases, saltwater contamination has taken place. The 20-foot surge, combined with sustained 185-mile-per-hour winds, has resulted in complete destruction of any stored-water supplies as well as significant saltwater intrusion in the aquifer.
Utilizing reverse osmosis, a specialized water purification process where contaminants are filtered out and flushed away, our team can provide water that is clean and safe for survivors to drink.
Water Mission’s Hurricane Dorian Disaster Response
- We are sending shipments of water treatment solutions, generators, and other supplies via boat and plane to some of the hardest hit areas, including Marsh Harbor, Elbow Cay, and Green Turtle Cay.
- There are little or no freshwater sources in these areas, so we will use a specialized water purification system for saltwater called reverse osmosis to meet the urgent need for safe water, providing up to 35,000 gallons a day.
- We are working with corporate partners in the United States and NGO partners in the Bahamas to provide emergency solutions as quickly as possible.
Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest, longest-lasting storms on record in the Atlantic, brought sustained winds of over 185 miles per hour and storm surges of around 20 feet to various parts of the Bahamas. Dorian made a direct hit on the Abacos, flattening entire neighborhoods and turning airports into lakes. CNN reports that more than 70,000 people are homeless after the storm. The number of confirmed deaths currently stands at 43, a number that is expected to climb as many people remain missing or buried under rubble.
“Our hearts are breaking as we begin to see the level of devastation and destruction,” George said.
Water Mission, along with the Bahamian government and other first responders, must overcome a number of unique challenges. We anticipate a lengthy and complex road ahead, and believe that full cooperation between local municipalities and international NGOs is the best way to assist the Bahamian islands into recovery.
“No government or organization can take this on alone—it’s just too big,” said Craig Williams, Water Mission’s disaster response coordinator.
With the northern islands of the Bahamas leveled by Hurricane Dorian, getting to people who are in danger and responding to their needs face immense logistical challenges, the PBS reports. With some airports inoperable and road blockages prohibiting traffic, traveling to and around the Bahamas currently requires calculated tactics and strong partnerships. We ask that our friends continue to pray for those affected, for our disaster responders’ travels and logistics, and for collaborators to come alongside us in this effort.
Clean, safe water is a desperately needed resource in the Bahamas right now. Thanks to Water Mission friends who have been praying and supporting our relief efforts, we have met a $75,000 match from our generous partners at the Turner Foundation Inc. and the Jane Smith Turner Foundation.
We are grateful to the Friess family for promising to match an additional $1 million of relief gifts in a grant for our Hurricane Dorian response. The outpouring of generosity we’ve witnessed this past week is a testament to the power of partnerships.
With the support of our friends and partners, we can confidently address such a colossal need. We want to save lives in the Bahamas and do all that we can to help our Bahamian brothers and sisters rebuild.
Our team is incredibly grateful for your generous partnership. As you lift survivors and our team in prayer, offer financial support, and spread the word to your friends and family, know that you’re helping to bring hope to survivors in the midst of this heartbreaking tragedy.