People of the Virgin Islands, good day and God’s blessings.
As you would have heard me speak about in the House of Assembly already, I have been in contact with Prime Minister of The Bahamas Dr. Hubert Minniss on a daily basis since Hurricane Dorian made its destructive landfall on those shores. Dr. Minniss and the people of The Bahamas are grateful for our prayers and for the assistance that we have been able to offer thus far.
Besides my prayers and sympathies, I have also pledged that the Virgin Islands Government will contribute $100,000 toward The Bahamas Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund.
I have also been able to share some perspective based on our Territory’s experience responding to a catastrophic hurricane. We recall the ports at times being clogged with the unexpected donations from well-intentioned persons overseas who, in their eagerness to assist, did not follow appropriate protocols. In what I believe is a very wise move, The Bahamas will be gratefully accepting a variety of different types of donations, provided they are given through the appropriate channels.
Monetary donations are the most useful at this time for The Bahamas, as this type of assistance allows Bahamians to respond to the changing needs they’re dealing with at any given moment. For those generous individuals and groups who would like to contribute monetarily to the relief efforts, I would urge you to give either through the many registered BVI non-profit organisations who are authorized to raise funds for these purposes and which have counterparts on the ground in The Bahamas such as Rotary, the Red Cross, ADRA, or VISAR; or else directly to the Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund at the RBC Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited. Dr. Minniss has informed me that there are many individuals who have set up private or web-based funds purporting to be for the benefit of his people, but that the only official Bahamas Relief fund is the one at RBC Royal Bank.
When it comes to donations of relief supplies, the Bahamas Government’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation (DRRM) Team will be coordinating the receipt of all non-monetary donations through the Ministry of National Security. We would not recommend any clothing or medication donations, however, if you are part of a group that would like to donate goods such as water, food, or equipment, please contact them first via email at EMOGroup@gov.bm, or by calling or texting (441) 501-0380, or coordinate non-perishable donations through the Lions Club.
This will allow the people of The Bahamas to receive critical assistance without placing any additional logistical or other burdens on them in this already extremely trying time, and will ensure that these needed supplies get to the individuals who need them quickly.
The DDM reports that already, some 60 skilled persons such as heavy equipment operators, nurses, doctors, emergency medical technicians, carpenters and infrastructure specialists have indicated their willingness to travel to The Bahamas to put their God-given talents and professional expertise to use in the Hurricane Dorian response and recovery efforts. I wish to thank these persons from the bottom of my heart. You all make me proud of this Territory and its people.
This morning we met with a number of Non-Governmental Organisations along withthe Financial Secretary, Permanent Secretaries and heads of key response agencies to establish a plan for the coordination of relief for the people of the Bahamas. The Department of Disaster Management will continue to provide the necessary updates on the operations taking place on the ground in the Bahamas to coordinate the relief support from the BVI on behalf of the Government. I urge you to reach out to them for any assistance or information you might need I know you will join me in continuing to hold the people of The Bahamas up in prayer. I have faith that with the help of Almighty God, they will have the strength and resources to rebuild and become better than ever.