The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management & Reconstruction in conjunction with NEMA, December 9, 2019 began the first distribution of donated furniture for residents who lost so much during the passage of Hurricane Dorian. On hand at the Fenestration Warehouse on Queen’s Highway to oversee what began on Monday morning, Minister responsible the Hon. Iram Lewis along with Managing Director of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority, Katherine Forbes-Smith, gave the same message, let those most affected by the storm receive the items first.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, M.P. for East Grand Bahama, also visited the distribution center to see how the process was going. According to Minister Lewis, “It is a good day where some of our plans are now coming to fruition. The government and its partnering companies are now in a position to give furniture to persons who would have lost everything. We do not have sufficient furniture to furnish an entire home, however we are asking individuals to select their most critical need. If your most critical need is a bed, a bureau and a lamp, then that is what you will get.
“This is not the end of it, it is only the beginning. We expect a lot more to come in over the next few months and as the furniture is received, we have no reason to hoard or stockpile it, we are going to give it to individuals as they need it.” Minister Lewis called on residents to be “fair and honest” and said if they did not lose their furniture and do not live in an area that flooded, “please allow those with the greatest need to first and foremost be served. Anything that is left over after this exercise then we will spread it out, but we are aware of people who have lost everything but have begun their repairs. Those are the people we want to serve first. And we’re trying to spread this as far as possible and touch as many lives as possible. We know it won’t solve all of the problems, but we hope this will bring some kind of relief to persons who have lost everything.”
Mrs. Smith added that this is the first in a number of donations that will take place over the next few months and it is important to note that they are not in a position to furnish a resident’s home, but they must decide what is needed, is most important, whether it is a bed, dresser or smaller items such as chairs. She added, “If you know you didn’t have any damages during the hurricane, then don’t come for the furniture. Let the people be for those in the greatest need. But of course, we can’t manage and decide how people are going to behave but we’re asking people to really allow those people with the greatest need to receive it. “If we find that this doesn’t work out very well, then we’ll have to start another process,” she referenced to the process being used to assist residents who are asked to produce a bill and identification when getting items, and added, “I hear a lot of people saying that we should do this differently, but we’re trying to do is not cherry pick and select who should get something.”
The process was a smooth one as members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force were on hand to assist NEMA staff and volunteers direct people into the warehouse parking lot and help load their vehicles.
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