As my colleagues have noted, we are working on the scenario that everyone on Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands will need some form of emergency assistance. Out of these, we (IFRC), anticipate supporting at least 20,000 of the worst affected.
In terms of what the needs are – I don’t want to repeat what others have said. However, we believe that Abaco island has the most vulnerable population. It is home to a large Haitian community that we believe will need specific support to recover and rebuild.
We understand based on initial assessments that 62,000 people on the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama do not have access to fresh water and will need support. As we know from previous emergencies, lack of clean water can cause serious secondary humanitarian needs.
As we mentioned yesterday, more than 13,000 houses are believed to have been damaged or destroyed. That’s equivalent to about 45 per cent of all dwellings on the two islands.
If I can, I’d like to quickly outline the actions we have taken in the past 24-48 hours.
Yesterday we released 250,000 Swiss francs from our Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). This morning the decision was taken to extend that to half a million Swiss francs in anticipation of launching an emergency appeal, perhaps as early as today. We will communicate that with you as soon as we have more information.
The Bahamas Red Cross has hundred of volunteers on the affected islands. They also had pre-positioned supplies for about 1,000 people. These will be important but, given the scale of devastation, more support will be needed
Before the storm hit, IFRC deployed a disaster management expert to Nassau. Overnight we have put on standby a rapid assessment and response team that will head in as soon as weather conditions allow. We have also put out alerts to our networks for larger Emergency Response Units in anticipation of a sizable response operation.
Finally, we are preparing a charter flight in Panama with relief supplies for about 800 families. Again, this will go as soon as conditions in the Bahamas allow.
Assessments expected to start tomorrow under CDEMA
All airports closed except for Nassau.