Red Cross Grand Bahama closes out shelter program

GROUNDBREAKING – Representatives from the Bahamas Red Cross Society (BRCS), Canadian Red Cross, the IFRC, the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) and other partners turn the soil to mark the groundbreaking for the new Red Cross Grand Bahama Center. The insert photo shows the design for the new structure. (PHOTOS: SHAYNE STUBBS)

Groundbreaking takes place

After 60 years of serving the Grand Bahama community from its old building on Jobson Avenue, the Bahamas Red Cross Grand Bahama Center will be getting a brand-new state-of-the-art facility.

The 60-year-old structure, having endured damages from several hurricanes, over the years, most recently Hurricane Dorian in 2019, was demolished back in January of this year, to pave the way for construction of the new building.

During the recent groundbreaking ceremony at the site, Bahamas Red Cross Society (BRCS) also officially closed out their shelter program, which was established specifically to assist those in the community that were in need, as a result of Hurricane Dorian.

BRCS President Terez Curry noted that the ceremony was two-fold and demonstrated the BRCS’s commitment to the Bahamian people during times of need.

“Today, two initiatives unfold. Firstly, we mark the occasion of our shelter and livelihoods program; and secondly, we break ground on a new center to carry out The Bahamas Red Cross Society’s mission in Grand Bahama.

“This ceremony signifies the closing of the largest disaster recovery project undertaken in The Bahamas. We are eternally grateful to our partners and the general public for the support under these conditions, as beneficiaries on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, due to your assistance, have begun to rebuild their lives,” said Curry. 

He pointed out that a new era has come about.

“The National Society also brings a new day, through the establishment of new infrastructure, to support the needs of Grand Bahamians. Our previous two-story center constructed in the 1960’s was damaged, mainly by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Structural assessments revealed that although the building still could be occupied, it had major concerns and was recommended to be demolished.

“Our new center, designed by architectural design ideas, features a beautiful Bahamian building consisting of three buildings. The center block is an Administrative building, approximately 2,300 square feet. The block to the left consists of a warehouse and commercial kitchen of approximately 900 square feet. The block to the right is planned for phase two of construction, which will include the construction of a 1,700 square foot multipurpose hall that will double as a shelter if the need arises, along with parking and drainage to complete the project,” she explained.

“We are very grateful to the Canadian Red Cross and the IFRC for their appeal and pledge for funding to reconstruct this building. We are pleased that after many consultations amongst BRCS, IFRC and CRC, the scope of this project was agreed upon, tendered and eventually contracted,” disclosed Curry.

 Pinnacle Investments Construction was selected as the preferred contractor, after 19 bid requests, nine bid submittals and an evaluation of seven builds that met the Grand Bahama Port Authority requirements. 

The Building Permit was granted by the GBPA on February 10, 2021, Curry further informed.

“Phase One of the construction is expected to be completed by November of this year, with a construction period of seven months. Efforts are underway to acquire funding for Phase Two of the project, and we invite our partners and members of the public to collaborate with us on this initiative to raise the additional funding to complete the building and meet the demands of the Grand Bahama community, so that you can have a shelter building here on Grand Bahama.

“We also welcome a new era for the National Society, here on Grand Bahama. To all of our partners in this initiative, we sincerely thank you, as we build a more resilient Bahamas, one person, one community at a time,” said BRCS President.

Red Cross Grand Bahama Executive Committee Chairman Renaldo Forbes also thanked partners and community-minded individuals for their continued support of the BRCS, Grand Bahama Center in particular.

“On behalf of us here at the Grand Bahama Center, I want to say thank you to all of you. Without you this would not be possible and we look forward to your assistance. I am very excited knowing where we came from and even what we have accomplished so far,” Forbes added.

With many international partners present for the momentous occasion, including representatives from the International Federation of The Red Cross (IFRC), the Canadian Red Cross (CRC), American Red Cross (ARC), the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), it was noted that much can be achieved when non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental agencies and the private sector collaborate to achieve one common goal.

IFRC, Hurricane Dorian Operations Manager Baylar Tailbov noted the following: “Our main mandate of the IFRC is to prepare and respond to national disasters and to strengthen the capacities of the local Red Cross and Red Cross societies.

“In particular, here in The Bahamas, we are honored and privileged to be here during the first days of Dorian to support the response and recovery efforts of the Red Cross Society. We will continue our recovery efforts through the strength and the capacity of the Bahamas Red Cross Society as much as we can,” stated Tailbov.

He thanked the Canadian and American Red Cross for assisting in making the ground breaking of the Grand Bahama Centre a reality.

Country Delegate Team Lead, Canadian Red Cross Brandon McFarlane of the Country Delegate Team/Canadian Red Cross spoke to joint operations in Red Cross. “Our National Societies have been close collaborators since the passing of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas and are pleased to hear that together the CRC and the American Red Cross have, as a movement, provided much needed relief assistance to hundreds of families in The Bahamas.

“We acknowledge and commend the important role that the Bahamas Red Cross has played in relief recovery and social welfare of all Bahamians. This momentous occasion demonstrates that we have a unified focus and may this branch continue to be a beacon of hope and a partner to other NGOs in the recovery process,” he said.

Chairman of the DRA, Katherine (Kay) Forbes-Smith, also thanked the BRC and other NGOs that came to the aid of The Bahamas, during one of the most difficult times in the nation’s history.

“The move toward recovery and reconstruction can only happen with the help and assistance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the Bahamas Red Cross, who like many other NGOs have supported the work in our communities, by taking on projects like this new building to be constructed here.

“We cannot underestimate the work of the Bahamas Red Cross throughout this country, the work with youth, reminding our young people early, the need to appreciate volunteerism; its first aid programs, feeding programs, shelter programs and of course, disaster management.

“When Dorian hit the northern islands, over 100 NGOs travelled to Abaco and Grand Bahama, but our local NGOs were here with us and remained with us, through these times of recovery and reconstruction.

“The DRA congratulates the Bahamas Red Cross in its work for humanity. We will continue to work with the BRC and all NGOs to achieve the vision and mission of the DRA, which is to rebuild one community at a time, with a team focused on rapid recovery and reconstruction, while improving the lives of our people,” concluded Forbes-Smith.

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