Disaster Preparedness Month opens with key message of preparedness from the Governor-General

(BIS Photos/Anthon Thompson)

Governor-General, the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith, ON, led a group of officials responsible for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response, in-country, along with other key partners and stakeholders at the annual Church Service used to launch Disaster Preparedness Month, nation-wide.

The Service was held Sunday, April 30, 2023 at St. Agnes Anglican Church, Baillou Hill Road. Disaster Preparedness Month is commemorated during the month of May. The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs June 1 through November 30.

His Excellency was joined by Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda and Mrs. LaRoda; in addition to senior government officials including: Mr. Carl Smith; Mr. Alex Storr; Mrs. Isla Deane; Captain Stephen Russell; Mr. Aarone Sargent; and Mrs. Gayle Outten-Moncur; among many others.

His Excellency said commemorating Disaster Preparedness Month nation-wide was a great opportunity for citizens and residents across The Bahamas to ensure that their preparations are underway in advance of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, adding that there is no higher calling than to be prepared for any eventuality.

“What a wonderful occasion we have, what a great opportunity we have to be able to make the necessary preparations for what we know couldhappen; what we know has happened in the past. I couldn’t be more serious when I say to the Church, when I say to communities all over our country, that there is no higher calling for all of us than to be prepared for any eventuality.”

His Excellency said his message of preparedness should resonate throughout all islands of The Bahamas, including New Providence.

“All of us can remember what has happened to our country, and to many of our communities, whether in Long Island (Joaquin 2015 that also brought damage to Acklins and Crooked Island, San Salvador and Rum Cay), or in Grand Bahama and Abaco (most recently 2019 Hurricane Dorian), or Eleuthera back in 1992 (Hurricane Andrew which also caused damage in Bimini and the Berry Islands), and if it happened to those areas, it could happen to New Providence. What will happen to our country if our capital city, where the seat of government resides, where the majority of our citizens live, and sadly where many of the homes are compromised, was affected by a major storm? This is serious my friends, let us take great care.”

The Governor-General also took the opportunity to encourage volunteerism at the national and community levels. His Excellency said volunteerism, when combined with preparation, makes for a more responsive and resilient society.

“This the time to not only consider preparing for yourselves, but also being available to the various agencies, volunteering your time in the case there is an emergency where there is the need for hands. Be prepared to help your Brothers and your Sisters. We must be our Brothers’ and Sisters’ keeper. I encourage everybody to do your part so that if there is an emergency, we are in the best shape of being able to overcome it.”

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response, the Hon. Myles LaRoda, said citizens and residents also have an “obligation” to minimize the impacts of disasters such as hurricanes on themselves, their loved ones, properties and businesses.

“Over the past four years with the exception possibly of Nicole, we have fared pretty well, but as the Minister responsible, I have toured East Grand Bahama, I have toured Abaco and I can tell you that four years later those areas are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Dorian,” State-Minister LaRoda said.

“We must be prepared. That cannot be said enough. Also, those of us who are in a position of preparedness, we have an obligation, a moral duty, to assist those who are not as fortunate,” State-Minister LaRoda added.

The Service took place at St. Agnes on a day the church community was celebrating Good Shepherd’s Sunday. Church Rector, Archdeacon Keith Cartwright, said it was not by accident that the service was held during its celebration of Good Shepherd’s Sunday as Hurricane/Disaster preparedness “is no joke.”

“It is by no accident that I believe the Lord has brought our special national committee here today. We (have to) be our neighbour’s keeper. We cannot, cannot, take natural disasters for granted. I just read recently of the unsettling news that the ocean’s temperatures are way up from normal. As you know, hurricanes get their gas from the heat coming from the ocean and so this is a very serious matter for us who live in places like The Bahamas – we cannot take this for granted,” Archdeacon Cartwright added.

By MATT MAURA/Bahamas Information Services

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