Commander Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA commended the public at large, on its response to the hurricane relief effort for residents of Inagua.

He was addressing the Rotary Club of East Nassau on NEMA’s response in the aftermath of the category four Hurricane Ike, which struck the island on September 7. The organization also presented Commander Russell with a cheque for $10,000 towards the hurricane relief effort.

“I must say how grateful we are for the generous support we have seen for residents of Inagua, from school kids, from communities throughout The Bahamas, as well as corporate Bahamas, as well as regional and international friends and partners,” Commander Russell said.

He told Rotarians at the Yacht Club that he was also pleased with the performance of persons of the emergency support function groups, who took part in the disaster exercise from NEMA’s Emergency Operations Centre.

Reporting on the status of the island, he said as of Friday, October 3, water has been fully restored, electricity fully restored, telecommunications fully restored on (Monday, October 6), 27 of the 49 homes of senior citizens/disabled have been repaired, seven homes of senior citizens have been repaired, and school has reopened.

A third shipment of building materials was expected to arrive in Matthew Town on Monday (October 6); the materials to complete the repairs of the remaining senior citizens homes, the disabled, single parents, then the general public.

Immediately following the passage of Hurricane Ike, Commander Russell implemented a 10-day relief phase aimed to ensure that food, water, plastic sheeting, and other basic supplies reached the disaster areas.

Goods and equipment were transported on Bahamasair, a US Coast Guard C-130 aircraft, and by mail boats.

Initial assessments were conducted by the Department of Social Services personnel, who determined that 201 homes received major damages; 42 homes received minor damages; two homes received extensive damages; four homes were destroyed and 10 homes received no damages.

The assessment also revealed that 21 homes were insured and 56 homes were rental properties. There were 49 senior citizens who required assistance in home repairs.

During the repair and restoration period, an order of priority was instituted: senior citizens, the disabled, the indigent, single parents then the general public. Those receiving repairs or restoration assistance must fall under the following categories: the house must be occupied, non-rental properties or non-insured.

“A further assessment will be conducted of all those rental properties to determination whether the land lords are able to repair their properties, if not, they would be advised as to how and where they can receive further assistance,” Commander Russell said.

For the relief programme, he also commended the Bahamas Red Cross, and volunteers from the Palmetto Point Men of Faith Ministry, The Adventure Learning Centre and the Seventh-Day Adventists, who assisted with repairs on Inagua.

Throughout October, he said that NEMA would coordinate efforts from a team of volunteers from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Ministry of Public Works, who will continue the repair programme on the island.