Residents in the Northern Bahamas, who are no strangers to hurricanes impacting their livelihood, joined resources and donated an estimated $30,000 to residents in Inagua impacted by Hurricane Ike on September 7, 2008.

Commander Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency, and officials travelled to Freeport, Grand Bahama, and Marsh Harbour, Abaco on Friday, September 26, 2008, to accept the funds on behalf of Inagua.

During a press conference at the Grand Bahama Port Authority head office, employees presented $7,715 to Commander Russell; and in Abaco, residents donated $22,300, totalling $30, 015.

“When you have employees coming forward to help their brothers and sisters in the Southern Bahamas, it is commendable,” Commander Russell said. “It is because of these gestures that invigorates me to do even more.”

He said that as a result of the latest donations, NEMA would redouble its efforts in restoring normalcy to the lives of the 1,000 residents of Inagua. He reported that repairs to the roofs of the 230 damaged homes are nearly completed.

Commander Russell acknowledged the assistance of volunteers, particularly the Methodist Habitat, a group in Inagua involved in the rebuilding process. The relevant government agencies are also ready to assist NEMA before, during and after a disaster, he added.

Senator Kay Forbes-Smith, parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, commended the employees for their efforts because “things are not always well in Grand Bahama”. She said she hoped the public is aware of what employees can do when they come together and support other areas of the country.

The employees said that they were pleased to see Commander Russell at the helm during the various press conferences “keeping the nation updated” on the storms. They said that they were also “grateful” Grand Bahama was spared the category four Ike; as they experienced three hurricanes – two in 2004 and one in 2005.

Family Island Administrator Cephas Cooper said, “Abaco is really no stranger to hurricanes and their impact on the island.

“We have had our share over the last several years and the rest of The Bahamas came to our rescue. We feel honoured to be in a position to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters in Inagua with the amount of $22,300.

School district superintendent Leonora Black said the schools – public and private – came together and raised more than $10,000 in cash, school supplies and non-perishable items.

The funds would be deposited into the National Disaster Relief Fund at the Royal Bank of Canada