All systems were a go at the Grand Bahama Emergency Water Relief Foundation (Rotary Water Plant) on Wednesday, September 6, as Rotary Club District 6990 Associate Assistant Governor and Plant Manager Mike Stafford and Rotary Club Assistant Plant Manager Billy Jane Ferguson began necessary service preparations ahead of Hurricane Irma.
Extending an invitation to other service organizations in the community such as; the LIONS’ Club of Freeport, Kiwanis Club of Eight Mile Rock and the Pilot Club of Lucaya, the teams worked diligently, well into the late evening to ensure the Grade A Water plant operational standards were maintained.
According to Stafford, “We are always ready to jump into action and once again we are partnering with various service organizations namely the LIONS’ Club of Freeport, Kiwanis Club of Eight Mile Rock and the Pilot Club of Lucaya to sterilize and fill up water jugs for distribution in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
“Keith Bain, LIONS’ Club of Freeport President assembled a team from their organization to fill up a container trailer of water, which will be set up at their headquarters on Beachway Drive for distribution to those in need within that general area, after the storm.
“Nicole Colebrooke, Pilot Club of Lucaya Immediate Past President along with fellow Pilots Karen Ferguson-Bain and Angela Burrows have come to assist in sanitizing the one gallon water bottles as well as they are performing various duties to ensure we are ready whenever called upon for help.”
Although the Emergency Water Relief Foundation (Rotary Water Plant) was funded at a cost of $217,000.00 by Rotary International and has been maintained by the organization, Rotarian Stafford explained the facility is only used in times of disaster such as tropical storms and hurricanes.
The entire Grand Bahama community from east to west, following a natural disaster, is allowed to get fresh, clean drinking water from the plant, hence Rotarian Stafford noted he reached out to various service clubs partnering with them to work together particularly, in this time of need.
“We must ensure that we help our brothers and sisters.
“Thankfully, the plant is 100 percent operational and if asked by NEMA, we will have water placed in the shelters following the passage of Hurricane Irma once the all clear is given.
“Additionally, teams from Rotary as well as the LIONS’ Club of Freeport, Kiwanis Club of Eight Mile Rock and the Pilot Club of Lucaya will drive through the neighborhoods making sure those in need of water after the storm are able to get it,” said Stafford.
With the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) City Management Department making the decision to remove all traffic lights from major intersections around the island turning each into a Four-way Stop until Hurricane Irma passes, Rotarian Stafford encouraged drivers to obey the rules of the road and drive with due care and attention, particularly in the area of the Rotary Water Plant, which is located on Grand Bahamian Way just off Queens Highway.
Reminding all that once the all-clear is enacted following Hurricane Irma those in need of water will be driving up to the plant to fill up their water jugs, Rotarian Stafford stated, “We urge the motoring public to be courteous, obey the rules of the road and if you see someone trying to get to the plant or exit it please allow them to maneuver accordingly.
“Water will be made available at the plant for those who are able to drive here once the all-clear is enacted in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
“However, I do pause to caution all, that we will not be filling up buckets, garbage cans or 55-gallon drums for anyone seeking water.
“We will however, only be filling up one gallon and five-gallon water jugs following the storm, which from all reports issued is shaping up to be catastrophic, so we urge all to properly prepare themselves.”
Grateful to partner with Rotary International, Pilot Club Past President Ferguson-Bain and LIONS’ Club President Bain agreed that it is refreshing for all to work together for one common cause in spite of the fact that they represent different service organizations.
Furthermore, they declared that they are mandated to serve the community and those in need, no matter their organizational affiliation and that is exactly what they will do.
“It is simply a joy to witness the various service organizations on Grand Bahama coming together and working at the Rotary Water Plant.
“Essential, life-saving service is being provided to the public thanks to the establishment of the Rotary Water Plant, which ensures that as many as humanly possible are able to receive clean, fresh drinking water in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
“Again it is a joy for the Pilot Club members to be working closely with the LIONS’ Club of Freeport, Kiwanis Club of Eight Mile Rock and Rotary International through this initiative putting aside our individual service organizational agendas to work as one, to accomplish one goal, which is to bring aid to the community of Grand Bahama.
“Definitely with more hands on deck we are able to get more done, easing any pressures that may seem to be placed more on one organization and/or individual than the other,” declared Ferguson-Bain.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the members of the Kiwanis Club of Eight Mile Rock led by President Leroy Simmons, who along with his team had already hit the ground running to ensure all the necessary arrangements from their end were complete.
Meanwhile, Rotarian Ferguson expressed her gratitude to the various service organizations’ leaders and their teams for the “phenomenal” job they are doing to provide assistance and lending a hand where it is needed most.
“After the last storm we (Rotary International) realized that it is so important to reach the community and to work together.
“Each organization comprises persons who not only care about the community and each other but provide various forms of much-needed service; therefore establishing us all as community builders in our own right.
“Again we all have the mandate to render service, hence with all of us coming together it makes the job that much easier.
“The old adage “many hands make light work,” and that is certainly true and we are all sure that the water that would be needed on the island will get to the various places thanks to the assistance of the LIONS’ Club of Freeport, Kiwanis Club of Eight Mile Rock and the Pilot Club of Lucaya.
“A lot of traffic to the plant would be alleviated as a result of the assistance that is also being provided by the junior arm of these organizations inclusive of the Interact, Rotarac and Key Clubs, who will help with the water depot substations throughout the communities of Grand Bahama.
“Helping the community is all of our business and we are happy to work together,” Ferguson declared.
Before, during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma the organizations will be working to help the public and LION Bain noted that his team would be working hard once the All clear is issued, distributing water at their headquarters.
“Indeed we are elated to have the invitation extended to the LIONS’ Club by Rotary International and while we do not want to have to encounter another hurricane, we are planning for it accordingly.
“Like Rotarian Ferguson stated the work is lightened when we all come together and that is exactly what we are doing.
“Additionally, Pilot Ferguson-Bain said it best, if anyone is not a part of a service organization or is indecisive on which to join, we encourage you to see how well we are working together in service to the community and thus make your choice as any of us are willing to take in more members,” declared Bain.