Hurricane Dorian Disaster Relief in the Bahamas
On Sep 1 2019, the Bahama Islands were devastated by Hurricane Dorian that left a trail of destruction in its wake, resulting in extensive loss of life and massive human suffering. For weeks, it was impossible to deliver the most essential resources. Finally, an exploratory team from the National Disaster Relief Team (NDRT) USA, landed on Grand Bahama on behalf of SSIO Zone 1 (North America), on Sep 23, in order to assess the needs for emergency supplies, food, safe drinking water and medical services.
During this first visit, with the support of SSIO-USA Region 3 and the SSIO Central America (Zone 2B), and in collaboration with St. Paul Methodist Church in Freeport, the SSIO delivered over 100 sleeping bags, tarps and 120 high-end portable water filtration systems. Pure drinking water is so critical and essential to the sustenance of life after a natural disaster; hence, the priority that the SSIO places on the distribution of portable water filtration systems and training residents on their use.
During the week of October 14, 2019, on its second mission, the SSIO delivered nearly 2000 pounds of
food supplies and 310 additional water filtration systems, through the kind donation from SSIO members across the US. The NDRT team worked around the clock to assemble and hand-deliver the filters to the residents in the remote parts of the island, provided instructions on their basic use and care, and encouraged residents to start collecting and treating rain water from roof tops. The families, in turn, shared their own harrowing stories of survival, with an inspiring attitude of acceptance and resilience. Above all, they were eternally grateful that their lives were spared and for the blessings of a "second life". Further, during this visit, NDRT Water Expert, Mr. Ken Pandya, trained members from the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach Sathya Sai Centers on the proper installation and care of the water filtration systems.
The current missions could not have been possible if not for the tireless dedication of Reverend Kenneth Lewis, Pastor at the St. Paul Methodist Church and his wife, both of whom have been gracious hosts to the SSIO volunteers; Joe Mazzarelli, a Florida Boat Captain, who generously donates his time and resources, and assists the SSIO in navigating all the supplies to Grand Bahama; and the SSIO-USA’s Region 3 service team that has been coordinating the daily arrival and distribution of SSIO relief supplies.
Although Grand Bahama is making a slow recovery, there is still much hunger and basic needs to address, and much relief work remains. The SSIO has committed its continued support for our Bahamian brothers and sisters by delivering family “food baskets” or “care-packs”, additional water filters, and bulk food supplies to help the church provide daily hot meals for children in need. The delivery of an additional 300 water filtration systems to Abaco island –that has sustained even more severe damage- is also scheduled for early November.
To this end, the following supply-drive schedule has been created. Interested participants are requested to contact their Regional Officers for details.
The NDRT will continue to keep everyone informed of the developments of this mission. Sathya Sai Baba has told us that sincere prayer is one of the most effective ways to assuage the grief and suffering of victims of natural disasters. Let us all pray together for His divine blessings on our Bahamian brothers and sisters for strength to recover from the massive suffering afflicted by this hurricane.
Opportunities to volunteer also exist by signing up at https://tinyurl.com/SaiNDRT