NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Social Services remains in crisis mode as it continues to serve individuals impacted during the passage of Hurricane Dorian some six months ago.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Assistant Director of Social Services Leonard Cargill said the government continues to provide assistance to Bahamians who were displaced from Abaco and Grand Bahama.
However, those efforts have been compounded by the increased need for assistance caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the capacity to maintain the ministry’s usual level of assistance.
“We are still in the trenches in terms of dealing with people from Dorian,” Cargill said.
“Also, there are two facilities that we still have running, offering mass care.
“Although the population may be declining at this moment, we are still dealing with a significant number of people.”
Dorian slammed into Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1, making a slow three-day crawl through the islands with wind gusts over 220 mph and storm surges up to 25 ft.
Officials estimated some 30,000 people and 9,000 homes were severely affected, with 89 percent of the damage occurring on the Abaco Islands.
Thousands of people were displaced, many of whom resided in shantytown communities in Abaco.
In the aftermath of the storm, more than 2,000 evacuees were living in shelters across New Providence.
At last report, over 100 Dorian evacuees remain in the Poinciana Inn, and the Bahamas Academy Gymnasium.
Cargill said the ministry has been providing increased rental assistance, financial assistance for appliances and food assistance for some of those residents impacted by the storm.
He said outside of the department’s headquarters has been non-stop filled with people waiting to receive assistance.
“Our mandate in social services is not to allow anybody in this jurisdiction to go hungry.”
Cargill insisted that the government has been “extremely supportive” in all of their efforts.
“The government is really committed to trying to make sure that these essential services that we offer that they are properly funded.”
According to a recent International Organization for Migration situational report, approximately 750 families (2,250 persons) are receiving rental assistance from the BDHA (Bahamas Disaster Housing Association).
The report noted that 700 displaced people from Abaco are staying with host families and rental homes on Eleuthera and Spanish Wells, and more than 400 people were initially registered as displaced with the Bahamas Consulate General Miami.
Additionally, the IOM underscored Elite Academy is housing 16 displaced youths, while there are still 45 displaced children accross three of the children’s homes in New Providence.