By Carlena Knight
As Hurricane Dorian continues to wreak havoc on the Bahamas, a number of countries have mobilized to assist the northern Caribbean country made up of several islands. Antigua and Barbuda is among that group of those who have geared up to help.
This was confirmed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne who revealed to OBSERVER media that he is in constant dialogue with Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis to find out the immediate needs of those affected.
Dorian is the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane on record and remains extremely dangerous. Some 13,000 houses are feared damaged or destroyed, according to the International Red Cross.
PM Browne also indicated that due to his position as Chairman of the OECS, he will be looking at sourcing more funds from that body.
“We are collaborating with him. We are using every effort to assist the people of the Bahamas both at the bilateral level with Antigua and Barbuda and the Bahamas and at the OECS level as the current Chairman. We have not yet been told about the full requirements as yet because as you know the storm is still hovering over the Bahamas, but you know from time to time, I guess there will be some press statements so I do not want to say much but the people of Antigua and Barbuda can be assured that we are playing our part.
“I do not want to appear as if I am taking any publicity during a time of disaster. . . I am dealing with the matter privately and empathizing with them, but that is why I am relatively silent on the issue because I do not want to make a show out of anyone’s misfortunes.”
Browne however shared the sad feeling he had seeing the devastation in The Bahamas as a reminder of what the people of Barbuda went through in 2017 with Irma.
“The situation in Barbuda was absolutely devastating and I recognize now that The Bahamas is having a similar experience and the big issue is that we have to contend with these storms year after year, they are becoming more frequent and more ferocious.”
He continued by stating that the situation in The Bahamas should remind residents in Antigua and Barbuda about the importance of building more resilient homes.
“It means therefore that we have to pay great attention to building more resilient homes. Perhaps we may have to concentrate on building concrete homes in order to minimize the damages by the hurricanes because clearly the wooden properties cannot sustain the strong winds. It is a major risk for us in the region.”
Meanwhile, Leader of the United Progressive Party Harold Lovell is calling on the OECS to rally its resources to assist The Bahamas.
“This is a time when The Bahamas needs every person of goodwill to step up and assist in any way, they can with this current crisis caused by Hurricane Dorian. It also brings to mind the fact that we the people of the Caribbean must begin to pay greater attention to the whole question of resilience. We in the Eastern Caribbean, in Antigua, we have to take things like shelter management seriously and make sure disaster management plans are in place.”