By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Red Cross Society officials yesterday called for the donation of more “urgently needed” items to better assist the organisation in providing relief to persons suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
At a press conference at Bahamas Red Cross headquarters on John F Kennedy Drive, Bahamas Red Cross Society Director General Caroline Turnquest made an “urgent public appeal” for items to assist the organisation’s hurricane relief efforts in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Andros, the islands hit hardest by the category four storm.
The list of items needed are water, non-perishable food, toiletries, bedding, cleaning supplies, mosquito coils, portable stoves with butane fuel, or other items that will make the lives of struggling residents “more comfortable,” she said.
Commonwealth Bank Limited made a donation of $100,000 to the group to aid in hurricane relief efforts.
Commonwealth Bank President Ian Jennings also called for “corporate Bahamas” to step up to the plate and assist as much as they can in providing relief to those affected by Hurricane Matthew.
“This storm has touched everybody,” Mr Jennings said. “It’s touched our staff, it’s touched our shareholders, it’s touched our directors, and it’s touched everybody in the country in some degree and form, whether it be lightly or for those people who have lost their homes and everything. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who are suffering and still suffering.
“In New Providence we are fortunate for the 50 per cent that have their power back on, but we have to remember that 50 per cent don’t, many of them don’t have water and of course there are those in Grand Bahama and Andros who are still suffering beyond our imagination if we haven’t actually seen it.
“So as we step forward and make this donation this morning we again urge corporate Bahamas and all Bahamians to step forward and search their hearts and give what they can, whether it be money or time or effort, whatever is possible, to the Red Cross and many other organisations.”
Bahamas Red Cross President Craig Tony Gomez, present at yesterday’s press conference, said as it stands donations have been “trickling” in, most likely because many prospective donors are themselves trying to sort out their respective situations.
Nonetheless, Mr Gomez said he expects the demand for supplies and assistance to increase as time goes on.
“In terms of the significance of what we expect, we have help from (the National Emergency Management Agency) and government agencies, but we expect whatever it might be, based on what we have seen thus far, that it would be moderate to extreme,” he said. “It’s not going to be a light road because of the damage that has been incurred by so many families in this community.”
He added: “The Red Cross has a bit of a relief in the sense that NEMA is well established and well funded and is operating and taking on the challenge first hand. However people will always bear in mind that the Red Cross is the Red Cross, we’re the kind of agency and organisation that people turn to in most dire times. So we are expecting and we have seen people come to us for primary assistance, primary assistance being food and water.”
According to Mrs Turnquest, donations can be made directly to the Bahamas Red Cross headquarters earmarked “Hurricane Matthew Relief” or mailed to PO Box N-8331, Nassau, Bahamas. She also said direct deposits can be made through Royal Bank (Bahamas) Limited, all branches, account number 05165-289-423-6.