Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Freight and Logistics Group Amongst the First in the Fight to Save the Bahamas

Hurricane Dorian Shatters the Island Paradise
Shipping News Feature

BAHAMAS – The halcyon, millionaires playground image of the Bahamas has been destroyed by the news coming out of the islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian which devastated many of the 700 or so islands and islets which make up the coral archipelago. Those on the scene report horrific scenes with all dwellings in some of the thirty or so inhabited islands totally ruined. A death toll of just 7 is likely to rise sharply as the first aid workers, including inevitably some from the freight and logistics community, arrive on the scene.

As some rush to help, so the US President is quoted as saying the islands housed ‘some very bad people’ and over a hundred members of refugee families fleeing to safety were ordered off a Port Everglades bound ferry after being told their passports were in order by ferry company staff in Grand Bahama.

The irony is that, although ferry travellers are required to have visa documentation as well as their passports, air passengers need only the latter and a clean criminal record. Not too useful when the airport to fly from has been initially destroyed. Some 1,500 or so did arrive safely and were allowed to disembark at Palm Beach, Florida making a total of almost 5,000 who are believed to have escaped to sanctuary by sea.

Witnesses said less than one in ten homes in Grand Bahama, the most populous island had survived, and all commented on the smell which pervades the entire area as the grim search for the bodies of the dead commences. Amongst those headed in were six DPDHL Disaster Response Team (DRT) volunteers tasked with supporting the logistics operation to handle relief supplies for the victims.

The first relief supplies able to land were delivered by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) in a wide-bodied charter aircraft and were transported by DPDHL employees to a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse for onward distribution to those in need in Freeport, Nassau and Abaco. In total thus far more than 136 tonnes of relief goods have already been dispatched by the DRT team.

The six freight company’s employees arrived from Colombia, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Florida and will be relieved by a second rotation of DPDHL employee volunteers in the middle of this week. When deployed, the DRT helps prevent bottlenecks at the airport closest to disaster-affected areas, ensuring essential supplies, such as food, medicine and hygiene kits keep moving, even under the most difficult circumstances.

Deutsche Post DHL Group has partnered with the United Nations (UN) since 2005 to provide the UN and country-level disaster management organisations with pro bono assistance managing airport logistics and warehousing incoming relief aid during natural disaster recovery efforts. Gilberto Castro, Senior Director Operations Colombia & GoHelp Manager for the Americas region at DPDHL, and leading the current operation commented:

"Following a natural disaster, it is imperative to respond quickly to ensure vital, life-saving relief supplies are available to people in need. DHL's DRT teams utilise their logistics expertise to provide practical, effective support at airports to ensure fast, well-organized handling of incoming aid supplies."

The IFRC says it has released 250,000 CHF from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to bolster the first wave of the Bahamas Red Cross’ response in a region in which as many as 13,000 houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed. On the island of Abaco, extensive flooding is believed to have contaminated wells with saltwater, creating an urgent need for clean water.

The IFRC initially supported around 500 families with emergency shelter assistance, including tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, and solar cell phone chargers and are providing them with unconditional cash grants, which will allow them to repair and replace what they have lost, while also helping to bolster local economies in the short term.

Photo: This town in Grand Bahama has simply been obliterated by the storm.