Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas as a category 5 hurricane on September 1, 2019. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is still monitoring Hurricane Dorian as it affects the Atlantic coast of the U.S. All of us feel great sadness about the damage this hurricane has already caused, the loss of life, destroyed homes and structures, floods and affected vegetation. PDA is currently in communication with one of our partners in the Bahamas, Bahamas Methodist Habitat, as well as U.S. presbyteries in the path of Dorian. As part of PDA's initial response, a solidarity grant has been coordinated for response efforts in the Bahamas. We have been in communication with several international response organizations, including Church World Service (CWS) and ACT Alliance, as well as National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and Puerto Rico VOAD. In conversations with ACT Alliance and CWS, we are identifying the best time and best way to travel to the Bahamas as part of a damage assessment team to implement a rapid, timely and effective emergency response to Hurricane Dorian’s impact; identifying needs, local capacities and providing updated information. In the past few days we have also answered the call of many people eager to know how to respond to this emergency.
We understand the genuine desire to help our neighbors. The reality is that right now the situation on the affected islands is critical. Access to the affected islands has been reserved for first responder organizations doing search and rescue, and providing first aid relief. As learned from previous disasters and the shared experience of many relief organizations, the best way to respond to a disaster is through monetary donations. As USAID indicates, “Cash donations are the most efficient form of assistance. Unlike material donations, cash involves no transportation costs, shipping delays, or customs fees. It also enables relief organizations to spend more time providing aid by spending less time managing goods. Cash donations also allow relief supplies to be purchased in markets close to the disaster site, which stimulates the local economy, thereby boosting employment and generating cash flow.”