Assoc. pledges its support to long-term recovery
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With thousands displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, a destruction storm that decimated the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, forcing a humanitarian crisis, the Bahamas Gaming Operators Association (BGOA) in partnership with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has built over 15,000 square feet of air-conditioned temporary tent housing to accommodate more than 800 hurricane victims.
“The tent city which we have built is an extension of the NEMA approved shelter at the Sir Kendal G.L. Isaacs gymnasium,” said BGOA chief executive officer Gershan Major. “We have fitted out the spaces with lighting, carpeting and flat screen televisions, operating on a 24-hour stand-by generator, along with portable bathroom facilities.
“We have built an outdoor kitchen at the shelter to allow for increase efficiency in the food preparation and distribution to those persons who will be temporarily residing there. We are also in the process of building additional showers and washing facilities to allow for greater hygienic care. We have installed additional security fencing to ensure the safety of the residents and to more effectively control access, as may be required by approved personnel.
“Finally, our members have been allowing staff time to volunteer with a number of our non-governmental organization partners, particularly, at the NEMA shelters.
“All of this would not have been possible without the collaboration from a number of our corporate partners and friends. Namely, the incredible Wildflowers Events Management Company, which erected the tents and Bahamas Waste Company Ltd. that immediately provided the portables with upkeep. Additional partners that aided in this wonderful humanitarian effort, were Carpet World and Scotts Bedding, which provided hundreds of feet of carpeting and mattresses, respectively.”
Major thanked Mitzi Turnquest of Signature Collection, which provided new bedding and stuffed animals for children, while volunteering herself and her staff to prepare the temporary housing; and Phil Burrows and his team, who voluntarily prepared three meals per day for displaced residents, residing at the shelter.
On behalf of the association, a non-profit organization that represents the majority of the licensees in the domestic gaming industry, Major offered condolences to the families who have lost loved ones as a consequence of “what was an unprecedented and historic storm of catastrophic proportion”.
“We also share in the discomfort and anxiety felt by those families, who are still unaccounted for or are still missing and to those who have lost their livelihoods,” the Major said. “This has been nothing short of heartbreaking. However, now more than ever, we as a people must continue to show our resilience with a unifying purpose and a singularity of focus to aid, support and help our brothers and sisters in Grand Bahama and Abaco.”
The BGOA said given the magnitude of destruction left in the wake of the Category 5 storm, all hands are required and each citizen, resident and business have a role to play in the long-term process to recovery.
The storm brought storm surges up to 23 feet, and winds of over 185 miles per hour, which leveled homes and structures and flooded communities. The confirmed death toll has risen to 50, but the total figure is expected to be “staggering”, according to the government.
“We encourage other corporate entities to continue to assist in helping us maximize our resources to bring much needed relief to our family in the north,” Major said.
“The Bahamas Gaming Operators Association and its members made a pledge to offer our united support, as needed. We will continue to do that in the weeks and months ahead, alongside our partnership with NEMA and many of our local and international corporate partners and friends, including so many of our staff members volunteering their time and talent.”