Social Services sends additional relief teams into Grand Bahama/Abaco

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Members of the team from the Department of Social Services who traveled into Abaco on Sunday with Minister Campbell following a team briefing -- pictured (from left): Ms. Charlene Harris; Mrs. Eartha Charlow, Chief Welfare Officer, Family Island Division; Mrs. Phedra Rahming, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; Minister Campbell; Ms. Irma Ferguson; Ms. Shellira Collie and Ms. Christine Sweeting. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)

Two additional teams of personnel from the Department of Social Services departed New Providence Sunday (September 29) for Marsh Harbour, Abaco, and Freeport, Grand Bahama, to assist with relief operations in the two areas of the Northern Bahamas most affected by CAT 5 Hurricane, Dorian. The teams relieved the initial two groups who traveled into the affected areas over the September 21-22 period to conduct assessments, assist in the relief operations, and to provide additional support and assistance for social services staff who would have been in the areas prior to, during and after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, as part of a rotation system.

Officials say the plan is to continuously rotate teams of four in and out of both areas for approximately one week at a time until all of the affected areas are covered. Employees from the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services were also among the initial teams.

Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell met with both teams prior to their departure Sunday. The Minister applauded them for their eagerness to assist during what is being referred to as arguably the “largest humanitarian aid effort” The Bahamas has ever had to undertake. “It takes quite a bit of courage to leave the comforts of your homes to go and help someone else, to go and help your colleagues, who have continued to perform exceptional service to the Ministry and their country, even though they would have lost homes and other property and in some cases family members,” Minister Campbell said.

“I am grateful for that. I am truly thankful to you and all of the other staff members across The Bahamas for your willingness to be your brothers and sisters’ keepers. I imagine that your colleagues will be grateful to see you and for all of the assistance you will render while there,” Minister Campbell added. Minister Campbell also commended the full staff compliment at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development for their steadfastness to duty, adding that employees have “answered the bell” above and beyond the call of duty, despite all that they have been called upon, and are being called upon, to do with regards to assisting with the relief efforts, while fulfilling their regular obligations to clients everywhere.

Staff members have been responsible for shelter management duties at the fourteen shelters that were opened in New Providence (10), Grand Bahama (2), Central Eleuthera and Andros, while others were responsible for manning the Department of Social Services’ Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), and others were stationed at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) established by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The Ministry has a Disaster Management Unit. Social Services personnel were also among the teams of technical experts who conducted Rapid Assessments in parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco impacted by Dorian immediately after the “All Clear” was given. Technical experts from the Ministry of Works, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Water and Sewerage Corporation, Bahamas Power and Light, and the Department of Environmental Health Services also comprised the Rapid Assessment Teams.

Rapid Assessments are conducted immediately following the onset of a disastrous event in order to “locally assess the disaster affected areas and the needs of disaster victims.” The assessments provide Disaster Managers with information that would better help them understand the greatest needs and recommend the most effective strategies for further recovery mobilization. “Our employees are the greatest; they are the best in the world,” Minister Campbell said. “They have continued to ensure that there are no disruptions in the services, assistance and/or programmes provided by the Ministry, even while facilitating so many roles in the national relief effort.”

Members of the team from the Department of Social Services who traveled into Grand Bahama on Sunday with Minister Campbell following a team briefing — pictured (from left): Ms. Victoria Coakley; Mrs. Eartha Charlow, Chief Welfare Officer, Family Island Division; Mrs. Phedra Rahming, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; Minister Campbell; Mrs. Vonita Cleare and Mrs. Janet Whylly. Team Grand Bahama was headed by Mrs. Carolyn Forbes, Chief Welfare Officer, Department of Social Services. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)

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