NASSAU, The Bahamas – Senior Officials from The Bahamas Red Cross Society, and the International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent’s (ICRC) Regional Office headquartered in Panama, paid a Courtesy Call on Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Myles LaRoda, (Thursday, May 5).
The two groups discussed a number of matters including the progress of the work for the management of mass casualties during disasters. The discussions took place as the country observes Disaster Preparedness Month. The objective of the Month is to promote key messages and actions in order to strengthen preparedness and response at the national and community levels. The 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1 and ends November 30 with forecasters expecting an above-average Season for the seventh consecutive year.
The visiting team included: Mrs. Terez Curry, President, The Bahamas Red Cross Society; Marisela Silva Chau, Head of Regional Delegation for Panama and the Caribbean, ICRC; Celine Leonet, Regional Coordinator, Movement Cooperation for Panama and the Caribbean/ICRC, and Jean-Franco Olivera, Legal Advisor.
State-Minister LaRoda was accompanied by: Mr. Carl Smith, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister’s Disaster Management Unit; Ms. Isla Deane, Under Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister’s Disaster Management Unit, and Mrs. Gayle Outten-Moncur, Deputy Director, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Mr. LaRoda applauded the Red Cross for its past, and ongoing service to The Bahamas.
“The Red Cross as an institution is iconic, and after Hurricane Dorian which was probably a once in a lifetime storm -- we are talking about not only the damage and the wind speed and the flooding or the ferocity of the storm -- but the length of time that it really sat over an island, and the Red Cross was one of those organizations that was here and present. Luckily for us, the Red Cross brand has been here with us almost forever,” State-Minister LaRoda added.
The State-Minister said the Society has expanded its offering of services in The Bahamas over the years.
“They have morphed into a lot of other areas of expertise and because of its good reputation, people are comfortable in giving money to the Red Cross or extending their services through the Red Cross and so we hope that this is a relationship that is continuous. Our country is very grateful for the work the Red Cross has done, and is continuing to do. There is a bond there. There is an affinity within the country – not just at the government level or the NGO level (Non-Governmental Organization) – but among the various communities,” Mr. LaRoda added.
Mrs. Curry spoke of the “close collaboration” between the local Red Cross Society, its international and regional bodies, the Government of The Bahamas, and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the past, and the need for continuous collaboration.
“We are in Disaster Preparedness Month and so we find it fitting that the Red Cross should come and sit with you for a brief moment to talk a bit about disaster preparedness, what you are doing, what we are doing,” Mrs. Curry said. “Visiting our shores is the delegation from the regional office in Panama so they are the other arm of the Movement. We would have had the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent who left us in March which was the wrap-up of their assistance, but included in Dorian’s work we certainly had the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross Red Crescent and so Marisela, who is the Head of the Delegation in Panama, thought it fitting at this time, during Disaster Preparedness Month to come and chat about Hurricane Preparedness. As you know they were in the mix of things with Hurricane Dorian. We hope that we will not have another Hurricane Dorian in any near future of our history, but we must be prepared.
Mrs. Curry said the local Society supports, and joins in, the national efforts to promote key messages and actions during the month of May in order to strengthen preparedness and response at the national and community levels.
“I’m aware of all that is being done by NEMA in spreading the word on Hurricane Preparedness as we also join that mode of educating the general public on being prepared and not waiting until the ninth hour to prepare and so our message is one of spreading the news, spreading the information within our various communities to ensure that those persons put it in the forefront of their minds as we approach the month of June,” Mrs. Curry added.
Ms. Silva Chau applauded the national society in The Bahamas for its work over the years.
“The International Federation of the Red Cross has a substantial support to the national society and what concerns disasters and response to disasters. We complement the response as well in specific issues. Based on the great job The Bahamas Red Cross has been doing, which represents the spirit of the Red Cross Movement, we have decided in the Caribbean to dedicate more effort to support the national society here,” Ms. Silva Chau added.