By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas' relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian have received a $2m injection courtesy of a leading cruise line and a worldwide family-entertainment juggernaut.
The Walt Disney Company and Royal Caribbean International (RCL), each pledged $1 million towards ongoing disaster relief for Bahamians adversely affected by the monster storm's passage.
The Walt Disney Company, in a statement, said its $1m donation will be made in cash. It will also include the provision of supplies such as food staples and basic construction materials to those in affected areas.
Additionally, the worldwide entertainment conglomerate said its employees with immediate needs in affected areas of The Bahamas will have access to "a range of resources".
It noted that Disney Castaway Cay, which experienced tropical force strength winds, employs more than 60 Bahamians from Abaco and Grand Bahama, as well as several employees from other Bahamian islands.
"The Bahamas is such a special place to us and our guests, and we have watched the devastation created by Hurricane Dorian with concern and heartache," Jeff Vahle, president of Disney Cruise Line, said. "We stand with the Bahamian people, and especially those in Abaco and Grand Bahama, as they recover from the worst storm to ever make landfall in The Bahamas.
"As the needs in these communities are assessed, we are prepared to aid the relief and recovery efforts through funding, the provision of supplies and by providing support to our Bahamian crew members."
Meanwhile, RCL said besides its own $1m donation, the ITM Group, its partners in the joint venture has plans to develop the Grand Lucayan Resort in Grand Bahama, is also donating an extra $100,000.
The cruise line said it is also loading "all kinds of goods" onto its ships, such as generators, water, cleaning supplies, clean sheets, towels, and more for "direct delivery to The Bahamas".
And, to make sure its donations "go where they can do the most good", RCL said it is collaborating with The Bahamas' government; its non-profit partner, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF); and a network of Bahamian charities and organisations, including the Bahamas Feeding Network.
RCL said its donation also includes matching every dollar of guest and employee donations to PADF "so they can help our friends as well".
Additionally, RCL said trained employee volunteers called the "GO Team" are on their way to The Bahamas to assist with local disaster relief efforts. The cruise line also said it is taking "special care" of coworkers and their families who were affected by the storm.
"The Bahamas has always been more than a destination for Royal Caribbean and our guests," RCL said. "For more than half a century, we've made many friends and many memories. The Bahamas is also home to more than 500 of our colleagues who work at Perfect Day at CocoCay and the Grand Bahama Shipyard.
"So in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamian people are in our thoughts and prayers. And we're rolling up our sleeves to help our friends, and inviting our guests to help."
A local company, AML Foods Limited, also pledged its support to its colleagues and the communities of Grand Bahama and Abaco. Renea Bastian, AML's VP of marketing and communications, said in a statement that the company will make an announcement "very soon" on its donation pledge.
For now, she said the company is working "diligently" to account for all of its 275 associates on Grand Bahama island. Ms Bastian said once AML receives the all-clear from the relevant authorities, it will complete "a full assessment of all of our locations in Freeport so that we can immediately begin servicing the community, and getting aid and supplies into the island".
She said AML has already started implementing recovery operations to assist its colleagues and customers, "who have suffered such major loss and damage over the past two days".
AML's statement said the company has also reached out to its international vendors to determine what, if any assistance or aid they can provide.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow Bahamians who have been impacted by this devastating storm," Ms Bastian said. "The days, weeks and months ahead will be difficult, but as a company, we are pledging our support to our colleagues and the communities of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
"…We are a family and we will rebuild, we will recover and we will be stronger than ever."