Nassau - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is providing 1,000 tarpaulins to replace roofs stripped from homes on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama by Hurricane Dorian this week.
"Right now, the priority is the search and rescue operation, conducted by the Bahamas' National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Bahamas Defence Force," said Jan-Willem Wegdam, IOM's Emergency Response Team head who arrived in Nassau on Wednesday (09/04).
"After everyone has been rescued from under the debris and the wounded safely evacuated, IOM's focus will be on providing temporary shelter for those who lost their homes. Tarpaulins are part of that task."
The government has confirmed the deaths of at least 30 people, and thousands of others are still missing. The United Nations believes at least 70,000 people are homeless on Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Tarpaulin coats, also called tarps, are strong pieces of waterproof plastic sheeting used to temporarily cover or fix damaged buildings. In the case of a sudden need for shelter, tarpaulins are a quick and cost-effective solution for a large number of people in need.
According to official sources, there are 449 people in nine emergency shelters in Abaco and 346 people in 17 shelters in Grand Bahama. Many are sheltering in clinics and therefore need to be relocated. Thousands more are prevented from reaching the shelters due to flooding and blocked roads.
"Only minimal information is available, and more detailed assessments are needed. IOM will focus especially on the needs of displaced persons in terms of food, shelter, water, medical and psychosocial support etc. That's why IOM is planning to deploy its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)," said Wegdam.
"The Bahamas faces a long road to recovery. Building back the destroyed infrastructure, with increased resistance in the face of extreme weather, will be critical to increase the resilience of the communities."
Wegdam added that the recent experience in Dominica, where IOM repaired more than 630 homes and built 87 others damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017, showed that integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure is paramount to the revitalization of livelihoods, economies and the environment.
For more information please contact Jorge Gallo at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 7203 6536, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org