First responders poised to help victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas

As Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas, first-responder efforts are currently underway to provide some immediate short-term relief to victims of the catastrophic storm.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) announced Monday it has a 18-person Rapid Needs Assessment Team (RNAT) stationed in Nassau, ready to be deployed to impacted areas as soon as the storm passes.

The RNAT will collaborate with the Government of the Bahamas to prioritize areas in direst need of aid.

The CDEMA is also working alongside a group of international relief organizations such as the Caribbean Public Health Agency, Global Affairs Canada, the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs and the Pan American Health Organization. Those groups will add more personnel to the effort.

As of 8 p.m. Sunday night, the team had taken preparatory actions to begin the rescue efforts to the Great Abaco and Great Bahamas islands as quickly as possible, including immigration support in case of displacement, security, health and shelter kits, ready-to-eat meals, water, waste bins and telecommunication services.

Materials have been stockpiled in neighboring areas such as Jamaica, Barbados, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba.

But the CDEMA’s relief efforts won’t even make a dent in the catastrophic damage the hurricane has caused. Hurricane Dorian is forecast to continue to pound the Bahamas with 165 mph winds and storm surges from 15 to 23 feet for the rest of Monday.

Donald Rolle, the administrator for South Abaco, said while on Sunday they got light wind and rain, they were getting hit harder on Monday.

He described north Abaco, which got the brunt of Hurricane Dorian, as “sheer devastation.”

“Pray for us,” he pleaded.

Herald Staff Writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.

Rene Rodriguez has worked at the Miami Herald in a variety of roles since 1989. He currently writes for the business desk covering real estate and the city’s affordability crisis.