A High-Level delegation from the United States Embassy, Nassau; the United States Northern Command, and the Rhode Island National Guard paid a Courtesy Call on Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, at the National Emergency Management Agency, Gladstone Road. Headed by Ms. Usha Pitts, Charge d’Affairs, United States Embassy, Nassau, the delegation consisted of Rear Admiral Daniel Cheever, Director of Planning, Policy and Strategy, North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), and Director of Planning, Policy and Strategy, United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM); Major-General, Michelle M. Rose, Director of Logistics and Engineering, North American Aerospace Defence Command/United States Northern Command; Major-General Christopher Callahan, Commanding General, Rhode Island National Guard, and other officials.
Min. Parker-Edgecombe was accompanied by Mr. Carl Smith, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, and Captain Stephen Russell, Director, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The recent Courtesy Call was followed by bi-lateral discussions and a tour of the facilities at NEMA – including a review of some of the equipment presented to the Ministry and NEMA, September 18, 2020 as part of a $3.6 million worth of disaster response supplies containing modular shelters and construction materials, the latter of which were used to repair 13 churches in Grand Bahama and Abaco that served as Hurricane shelters and were damaged during Hurricane Dorian.
The $3.5 million Modular Shelter System can house 400 persons and was supplemented with 2 mobile Flex Kitchens and mobile bathroom facilities (3 mobile container shower sets and 3 mobile container toilet sets) that can be deployed together, or separately, to respond to emergency needs. The MSS Units can quickly provide shelter to displaced persons or provide rapid accommodations to disaster response personnel/First Responders. Earlier that month, twelve medical evacuation boats that can be used to rescue residents from storm surge and flood water, conduct rescues for downed aircraft in marsh areas or boaters in distress and in sight of land, were also delivered. The total package included the 12 boats, 12 trailers, 12 engines, 12 stretchers and 144 life vests. U.S. Northern Command provided floodwater training for teams in 12 Family Islands throughout The Bahamas.
Mrs. Parker-Edgecombe applauded the longstanding partnerships between the United States Embassy, Nassau, USNORTHCOM (which began as a partnership between The Bahamas and USSOUTHCOM) and the Rhode Island National Guard.
“Today we are grateful to have you here with us, appreciative of the partnership that we have formed over the years and all that you have done to assist us in this country,” Mrs. Parker-Edgecombe said. “We look forward to the continued partnership, one that is mutually beneficial.” The State Partnership Programme (SPP) between The Bahamas and Rhode Island was established in 2005 through the United States Department of Defence’s State Partnership Programme in conjunction with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force: “In a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship to enhance, influence and promote access in the region.”
Officials say RING and the RBDF were matched as a result of their “comparable size, focus and mission” in addition to the geographical, cultural, ancestral heritage, coastal setting and economic similarities between The Bahamas and Rhode Island.
Sixteen years later, the Partnership has blossomed to include opportunities and ways to promote and develop business relationships/opportunities, disaster preparedness and emergency management, training for local law enforcement agencies including police investigators, firefighters and Correctional Officers, through a Memorandum of Understanding between the then College of The Bahamas and the University of Rhode Island that sought to promote research and academic exchanges between the two educational institutions, and which has led to student and faculty exchanges.
Permanent Secretary Carl Smith, who served as the Interim Director of the National Emergency Management Agency during its formative years and played an integral role in the process, was the lead member of the Bahamian delegation that made the initial visit to Rhode Island.
“The State Partnership Programme between The Bahamas and the Rhode Island National Guard has grown from collaborations with NEMA and the Defence Force to include the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services,” Mr. Smith said. “We thank you so much for the assistance that you have provided in the past and are now providing in the area of health with the distribution of vaccines, and so these partnerships are very important.”
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