Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell said Tuesday that the services, assistance and programmes offered by the Ministry, through its various Departments and Divisions, have been operating “business as usual” — even while staff continue to play leading roles in the relief efforts in the aftermath of the monster hurricane, Dorian.
Minister Campbell said this includes social services personnel who themselves were adversely affected by the hurricane.
“The response to Hurricane Dorian did not change the level of our responsibility and commitment to our regular clients,” Minister Campbell said. “While our people continue to be at the forefront of the relief efforts, we still have clients across The Bahamas whom we have to assist; we still have programmes to facilitate, and so we have had to multi-task.”
Minister Campbell said employees have “answered the bell” above and beyond the call of duty, despite all that they have been called upon to do, and are still being called upon to do, in terms of assisting with the relief efforts while fulfilling their regular obligations to clients everywhere.
“We have people on the ground in parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in particular, who are still working to ensure that other survivors of the storm are assisted even though they themselves would have lost homes, lost possessions, and in some cases, family members.
“I have a pregnant social worker in Abaco whom I have been begging for sometime now to allow us to bring her to New Providence; to allow us to send someone to replace her, and even though she lost her home and all of her possessions, she is still determined, she is still resisting my appeals because she wants to be able to stay and assist other persons.”
Minister Campbell said similar stories of social services staff putting aside their own difficulties to render assistance to other persons, can be found in Grand Bahama. He said staff in New Providence — where 10 of the 14 shelters have been opened and are managed under the remit of the Ministry — have been fulfilling their obligations to clients during the day, before moving on to assist at one of the ten shelters opened on the island during the afternoon or night shifts. (Almost two thousand persons are being housed at shelters in New Providence. Shelters were also opened in Grand Bahama (2), Central Abaco and Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera.)
“Fourteen shelters up and running continuously on a daily basis and I haven’t had any complaints from any of the shelters relative to the staffing and the management of those shelters,” Minister Campbell said.
Staff members have also been manning the Department of Social Services’ Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), while others are stationed at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) established by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The Ministry has a Disaster Management Unit.
“They are the greatest; they are the best in the world,” Minister Campbell said. “Be assured that we are doing our best. I know that not every situation is ideal and that there are some discomforts out there and that some people are inconvenienced, and some may even be frustrated and angry, but we are committed to pressing forward in order to bring back a sense of normalcy in the shortest possible period of time.”