The daily graphic images from the Northern Bahamas, savaged by a monster hurricane, show extraordinary devastation, an ominous harbinger of massive loss of human life.
The death toll is 30 and will rise rapidly and sharply, according to the Bahamian health ministry. Families are shattered and searching for loved ones, food and water. Thousands of homes, buildings and businesses have been flattened. Floodwaters and storm surges cover virtually everything.
And we’re just beginning to understand how bad the destruction is.
Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco islands as a Category 5 storm with wind speeds of 185 miles per hour and 20-foot storm surges. It later pulverized Grand Bahama, the second-most populous island in the 700-island archipelago, for nearly 40 hours.
In the aftermath of the cyclone, many residents had to flee crumbling homes and relocate to shelters. There is no electricity or running water on these islands. Communication remains spotty. People need our help.
Said Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis: “We are in the midst of one of the greatest national [crises] in our country’s history.”
For us in Barbados, it is still mind-boggling to think that we dodged this catastrophe.
And without a doubt, the urgency to reach across the waters hits home, hard. No one watching can ignore or fail to empathise with the pain, the loss and the anxiety of the survivors.
But we know how to reach out to heal hurting Caribbean brothers and sisters.
In 2017, we wasted no time to help pull Dominica from the ravages of Hurricane Maria and Barbuda from the devastation of Hurricane Irma.
We are able and ready to do the same for Grand Bahama and the Abacos.
Yesterday, as Prime Minister Mia Mottley was preparing to join her Caribbean Community (CARICOM) counterparts on a tour of the Bahamas, she announced that a national telethon would be held on Sunday to facilitate donations of cash in support of the relief effort, urging Barbadians to give generously.
She declared: “If there is any Christian or charitable bone in us, then we each know what we have to do, however small, however large.
“We understand that our country has people who feel beleaguered, but however much we feel beleaguered, we have options and freedoms that the people of Grand Bahama and Abacos do not have today, next week, next month or next year.
“So, please work with us to do that which you can.”
Today, under the direction of Minister of Public Affairs Senator Lucille Moe, Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong and the National Cultural Foundation, the media pledged their support and on Sunday, between 3 p.m and 10 p.m, Barbados will deliver to the rest of the world: Rise Again Bahamas Mediathon
This is a call for Barbadians at home and abroad and our regional neighbours to stand with the Bahamas in their time of need.
This is a tangible way in which we can collectively get together and celebrate the resilience of Caribbean people as we raise funds.
Donations can be made to the CDEMA Barbados/Bahamas Relief Fund at the CIBC First Caribbean International Bank. The account number for the fund is 1001186684.
It is important that we do all we can to provide for the communities affected by Hurricane Dorian. We want to make sure the victims and families affected by this disaster know they have the support of Barbados in this time of healing and rebuilding.
We know some of you are keen to send food, water, medical supplies, clothes, toys and other items, but logistically it’s near impossible.
So focus on giving cash, no matter the amount, to help Bahamians, with CARICOM help, fund recovery efforts.
Barbados, this is your time to give. Let’s help the Bahamas to RISE AGAIN.