Over80 members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force were assigned the duties of Hurricane Shelter Managers for 11 hurricane shelters that are currently open in New Providence and Grand Bahama as a result of Hurricane Dorian.
Prior to the storm, 60 RBDF Hurricane Shelter Support Team members were on call to manage and securing 51 Hurricane Shelters in New Providence alone in the event shelters were needed. The first Hurricane Shelter was activated in New Providence on August 31.
In providing shelter managers, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force is responsible to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Services.
Currently, 11 shelters are in operation for displaced persons–7 in New Providence and 2 in Grand Bahama.
At one point, the combined total occupants within these shelters was over 2,000 persons due to mass evacuations out of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
The team of 80-plus RBDF members are supervised by Warrant Officer Raymond Sands. Warrant Officer Sands currently serves as the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s Hurricane Shelter Senior Manager. Each season a Shelter Senior Manager is appointed by the Commander.
The combined total of displaced persons presently at the shelters is over 1,600. Shelter locations in New Providence include the Kendal Isaac Gymnasium, the Calvary Haitian Baptist Church, Fox Hill Community Center, the Salvation Army Headquarters, Pilgrim Baptist Church, the former Bahamas Academy School on Wulf Road and the All Saints Anglican Church, East Street south.
Shelters in Grand Bahama include the Church of Ascension and St. George’s High School Gymnasium.
“We have 80 Defence Force personnel manning the shelters,” said Force Chief Petty Officer Sands. “A main task is to ensure the safety of the shelters, their occupants and surrounding property.”
Food, clothing and medical care for persons in the shelters are organized by the Ministry of Social Services. These items are mostly donated through corporate and civic organizations.
According to Petty Officer Shamica Duncombe, an Administrative Team member, “Defence Force personnel are there to ensure that rules are enforced.”
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force remains committed to protecting the territorial integrity of The Bahamas during this hurricane relief efforts.