This past Friday, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), was presented roofing material, worth about $30,000, by the Pathfinders Task Force and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The presentation took place The Freeport News attended the presentation at NEMA’s Grand Bahama warehouse in Hawksbill.
Scott Lewis, Task Force leader for Pathfinders Task Force, spoke on the organization’s long history with The Bahamas. He revealed that their first operation was right after hurricane Floyd back in 1999.
“We’ve initially just focused on the first couple of days after every storm. Hurricanes Jean and Francis really had us working. Since then we’ve become sort of trusted by US organizations to ensure that the donations get to the right people that really need them,” he said.
Lewis disclosed that the $30,000 worth of roofing material represented a portion of 10 container loads of goods that totaled around $250,000, inclusive of food items.
“We rode out Matthew in New Providence in NEMA’s headquarters at the national EOC and I believe we were the first team on the ground here in Freeport two days after the storm. We also were in Andros,” said Lewis.
Lewis also informed that Pathfinders partnerships with Bahamas National Geographic Information Systems (BNGIS). He stated that they use their own system on cell phones without Internet or cell towers to map and track everything.
“You take photos and it Geotags and time-date stamps them. So when Matthew came in to New Providence we used the systems for rescues when the development was at the stage of tropical storm-forced winds. Our folks were on the buses with Defense Force People with NEMA and medics going out into the lower side on the south side of New Providence,” he explained.
Lewis further stated BNGIS allows operators to see the people, moving, document their activities.
“When we first flew over Andros the system tracked the situation on the ground and the government was able to see what the damage was before teams went in.
“It worked with Hurricane Joaquin last year. I think we were seven or eight days without Internet. The British government worked with us.
Lance Brown, Branch President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Grand Bahama told this daily that the organization’s focus is to aid people with disaster relief, to give supplies where needed.
“We’ll do an assessment, evaluate what’s going on and see where we can help out,” he said.
Tammi Mitchell, NEMA Warehouse Manager in Grand Bahama promised to ensures that the items donated get distributed to persons on the list given to them by the Department of Social Services.
“We are finding that a number of persons are still getting lost in the cracks. So what we’re trying to do is get into those cracks and assist those persons as best as we can with what we have here,” she said.
Mitchell informed that persons with major damage would have to take another step with the government’s own program which would take longer.
She then revealed that NEMA is continuing to supply persons in the western district with the items that were previously donated by the Miami Dolphins organization along with other various donations from other organizations
Minister for Grand Bahama The Hon. Dr. Michael Darville was also in attendance. He thanked the Pathfinder’s Task Force group along with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on behalf of NEMA, Minister responsible for Recovery and Restoration the Hon Shane Gibson, and the residents of Grand Bahama.
“What has happened, is that after Hurricane Matthew, they are still donating supplies that are being used by many residents, who find themselves in need. They are working in conjunction with Social Services as well as the Urban Renewal group and these supplies that have been donated today will go a long way,” he said.
Darville said that normally after the initial thrust of assistance following a hurricane, the donations fall off. He said he is particularly appreciative because donations are still coming in.
Published Monday, January 9, 2017