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Evacuees from Abaco at a shelter in Nassau. Evacuees from Abaco at a shelter in Nassau. 

Bahamas: Catholic Church trying to meet basic needs of hurricane survivors

Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau told Vatican News that his archdiocese is trying to meet the immediate needs of the evacuees as well as those who have remained behind in the affected islands after Hurricane Dorian.

By Robin Gomes

Hurricane Dorian, a devastating category-5 storm, left a trail of death and destruction in the Bahamas, after battering the north-western islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco for more than 24 hours on 1 September. 

According to official estimates, at least 50 people have died and around 70,000 have been affected.  Thousands of hurricane survivors are being evacuated to New Providence, which includes the capital, Nassau.  Most of them have little or no idea of how or where to begin to rebuild their lives. 

Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau on Monday visited some of the affected areas in Grand Bahama and Abaco. After Nassau, the Grand Bahama and Abaco islands have the largest concentration of the population of the Bahamas, and that’s what “makes the problem so difficult, so immense”, the archbishop said.

Listen to Archbishop Patrick Pinder

While most of the roads have been cleared, Archbishop Pinder said, they still have to clear the rubble and them begin the arduous and expensive process of rebuilding.

He said that the school of the archdiocese in Marsh Harbour in Abaco has been destroyed by the hurricane. Many of the people in the island have been evacuated and many are being sheltered in New Providence, where the national capital, Nassau, is. 

Basic needs

Students of the schools of the archdiocese in Nassau, along with their teachers, are providing basic needs to the evacuees, such as housing and food

A big task, according to the archbishop, is providing housing for those people who have stayed back in Grand Bahama and Abaco islands.  One of the parishes there is providing regular meals for the affected people, making sure their basic needs are met. 

Overseas response

Apart from catering to the material needs, the archbishop said, the people also need spiritual, emotional and psychological support for all they are going through, many of whom have lost their homes and all their possessions altogether.  So, meeting the very basic needs of the people is what the Catholic Church is working on at the moment.

In this task, Catholics overseas, Archbishop Pinder said, are giving a hand. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is assessing the situation on the ground.  The Knights of Columbus, the Archdioceses of Miami, Washington DC and many others have responded to the appeal Archbishop Pinder made in a video message on the website of the archdiocese. 

11 September 2019, 17:54