Scouts respond to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
On 1 September the most powerful storm to ever hit the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian, made landfall, causing severe flooding, damaging and destroying 13,000 homes. Thousands of families have been left without shelter and struggling with limited access to food, water and other basic needs. Scouts from all over the country reacted as first responders to aid the emergency relief efforts conducted by relief organisations. Despite the emergency assistance being delivered by international organisations, the situation remains dire and the needs are growing.
Jose Luis Vargas, International Commissioner of The Scout Association of The Bahamas, shares with the world his own experience of the hurricane and highlights the support that Scouts are still providing.
How many Scouts are involved?
We have been collecting food, clothes and hygiene products to deliver to the affected families. After making some adjustments to our headquarters building we have been able to provide shelter to 400 persons and delivering the items that Scouts have gathered for them.
The whole city of Nassau is involved as we are all working together. Scouts of all ages have been involved in providing assistance. We estimate around 260 Cub Scouts (8-10 years old), 180 Scouts (11 – 15 years old) and 35 adult Scouts have been contributing to helping the affected communities.
Can you tell me a little more about their experience?
This is not the first time Scouts have responded to an emergency, but the situation of this hurricane was catastrophic causing everyone to get involved. We have never experienced a hurricane of such force and category. The damage to homes and businesses is about 90% and the loss of lives are estimated to be around 2,000 which may be even higher once the clean-up has been completed. The most challenging moment was determining in what ways we could help in the midst of this devastating situation. We are now hand in hand delivering what we can to ease some of the consequences of the storm.
How have the local communities responded to the work of the Scouts?
The community sees the work we are doing with great appreciation. They also know that they must assist us with this task as this job will take several months.
Are you working in collaboration with any local authorities or partners? Which ones?
The local authorities are working closely with us. They are responsible of identifying the individuals who will be staying at our shelter, provide hot meals during the day to those we are hosting and allocating us police officers to secure the facility.
We have collaborated with Rotary International as they have donated 50 tents to those without shelter and given us 30 of them to install at the Scouts headquarters.
How did the Scouts prepare for this response?
We have an emergency plan that we revise each year in which outlines what to actions we follow before, during and after a hurricane. The plan helped us to take immediate action at the beginning but the situation was more severe than we anticipated.
In these kinds of situations, what is it that Scouts can do that others can't?
People in the community really believe in us. We are viewed as a popular and credible organisation so people here are more likely donate and support our work because they know it will help those in need.
In the Bahamas we are a very small organisation but we have many supporters, who are both previous Scouts and currently active Scouts who are always ready to help.
One of the important ways that Scouts in the Bahamas will be able to continue the relief support is with your help, our supporters, and the generous contributions you can make.
If you wish to donate, you may do so through this project on the Scout Donation Platform below. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar for a limited time only. Any amount, even a few dollars, can go a long way in providing relief for those who need it most.