Bahamas disaster risk management and mitigation ministry, unique in the region

DRA MINISTER SPEAKS – Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe was the keynote speaker during a service of appreciation for volunteers of Hurricane Dorian, held on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Calvary Temple Assemblies of God. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

Min. of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe says the formation of the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction signifies just how serious the Minnis Administration is about putting in place a ministry that is specifically designed to address disaster risk management and mitigation. She noted that The Bahamas is the only one in the region, thus far, to do so.

“As my Ministry moves forward in strengthening policy and legislation surrounding disaster preparedness, management and reconstruction, we do so recognizing that we too have a role to play,” Minister Parker-Edgecombe noted. “There must be stronger working systems and shelters; an increase in capacity, better communication. There must be put in place legislation that protects each and every one of you. As many of you would have also lost during the storm, while helping the government of the day and helping others. It is only right.”

The State Minister’s remarks came during a service of appreciation for the volunteers of Hurricane Dorian, for their acts of kindness shown before, during and following the devastating hurricane. The service was held on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Calvary Temple Assemblies of God. Minister Parker-Edgecombe pointed out that the government is focused on putting in place safety measures for all Bahamians.

“The mandatory evacuation orders have since come into effect,” she noted. “Our country remains an active member of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). We are insured as a nation in the event of a disaster. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) continues to solidify its mandate of preparing and managing disasters and the newly formed Disaster Reconstruction Authority is progressing in its recovery and reconstruction efforts.

“We are a coastal nation and amidst climate change, we recognized the need for focused attention in this sector. It is a proactive approach, rather than that of reaction. Hurricanes have been the main disasters experienced in our country, and while that is the case, we must position ourselves to fight any disaster that comes our way.” Parker-Edgecombe encouraged those volunteers present to continue to take part in the training that is available. She admonished them to speak to family and friends about coming into the fold of service, because all Bahamians need each other to survive.

“Every sector present here today is important,” she added. “We cannot work in silos. We must join hands tightly. The common goal being saving lives amidst any disaster. I am truly honored to be here with you, recognizing that each and every one of you present here today, epitomizes the true essence of being your brother’s keeper and for that we are grateful. Because of you, many lives have been saved over the years, most recently during Hurricane Dorian.”

The Minister of State noted that Hurricane Dorian, was undoubtedly the worst storm that the Commonwealth has ever experienced. She said major devastation was incurred and not only did people lose properties and homes, but many people lost loved ones. Minister Parker-Edgecombe admitted that while preparation took place at best, no one expected the ferocity that came along with a category five hurricane.

“We are not all the same,” she said. “Our lives will not be the same. 2019 and 2020 in particular, have changed us forever. Not only have we had to rebuild following Hurricane Dorian, but we have had to face the COVID-19 pandemic amidst it. We are being tested and we are being tried. Our homes and communities, left vulnerable. “I am a believer, however, that all that has been done, especially the sacrifices made on your part, is the foundation that will ensure that as we rebuild, we do so even stronger. Today you are all being recognized. You did not have to do what you did. You could have chosen to stay indoors and carry on with your lives. You could have chosen to sit back and watch. You could have chosen to have someone else step forward, but you came forward.

“Your love for your brothers and sisters and, clearly, your love for your country has been demonstrated by your actions. “Today, it brings me pleasure to say to each and every one of you ‘thank you for all that you have done and what you will continue to do’. Your communities need you and your country is blessed to have you.”

Min. of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Iram Lewis; Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. Michael Pintard and Minister of State for the Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, along with Island Administrators, Government officials and President of the Grand Bahama Christian Council, Pastor Robert Lockhart are photographed with volunteers presented with certificates of appreciation during a special service on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Calvary Temple Assemblies of God. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)