Written by: Holly Baker, American Red Cross delegate in The Bahamas
Surrounded by water, not a drop to drink
When Hurricane Dorian passed through The Bahamas in September 2019, the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama received the most significant impacts, with the entire island of Grand Bahama left without clean drinking water after the storm contaminated the island’s natural, fresh aquifers and wellfields with salt water. After Dorian passed it was clear that widespread damage was done, and the need for a solution to access clean water was essential.
In the same month that Dorian hit, the American Red Cross partnered with Mercy Corps to restore access to drinkable water on the island by funding clean water production through the use of two reverse osmosis machines with capacity to produce 15,000 gallons of water daily. Clean water was then distributed to communities through 20 fill-up spots. Providing a sustainable but temporary solution to local residents to get drinking water also afforded the island’s utility company time to work through challenges caused by Dorian to restore fresh water to households. Access points were set up at schools, community centers like the YMCA, healthcare clinics and more to meet the needs of the residents. Families were encouraged to bring their own water containers and fill them up with as much water as needed for free. The water produced in this partnership exceeded health standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Lifting up the island
With the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, additional measures were immediately implemented to protect residents utilizing the water sites and the volunteers overseeing them. Together, the American Red Cross and Mercy Corps have provided nearly 3 million gallons of clean drinking water over the year since Dorian hit. This water was made available to thousands of people and their families allowing them easy, free access to water while they could continue focusing on other parts of their life impacted by Dorian.
The Grand Bahama Utility Company has since worked to restore the island’s freshwater, so residents can use municipal water and no longer need to rely on the distribution sites. The American Red Cross provided over $2.3 million in funding support to help provide clean water to Grand Bahama as one of the recovery programs. Read more about other initiatives in the Hurricane Dorian 1-Year Report.
American Red Cross in the Bahamas
The American Red Cross has been helping in The Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian hit in September 2019, providing emergency shelter items, food, clean water and millions of dollars in cash and rental assistance to families. It is because of the generosity of the American people that the Red Cross is able to provide continued support to families. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Cross continues to keep safety the main priority and is adapting our programs and efforts to follow all health guidelines while still delivering our mission. For more information on Hurricane Dorian recovery, visit www.redcross.org/dorian.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.