The United States government handed over to The Bahamas a nearly $900,000 disaster warehouse facility in Grand Bahama yesterday furnished with equipment and supplies to service the islands in the north.
Prime Minister Perry Christie accepted the gift during an official hand-over ceremony from General Charles Jacoby, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command.
The nationâ s chief executive promised that his government will do its best to utilize it to its fullest potential.
The 4,800-square foot building is equipped with an office and meeting space, a secure storage space of 180 square feet, restrooms, warehouse, pallet storage, 20 kilowatt generator and 1,000 gallon rainwater storage tank.
It was the second facility of its kind donated by the United States. The first is located in Coral Harbour in New Providence and plans are on the drawing board for a third one to be built for the southern Bahamas.
The Grand Bahama Disaster Warehouse is located in Hawksbill and was four years in the making.
Prime Minister Christie said the U.S. and The Bahamas has had a long history of friendship and have partnered in many efforts.
He noted that there is no question of the necessity for the two countries to work together, while pointing out that Grand Bahama is no stranger to three hurricanes in recent years.
" We're here today, with the representatives of the United States government and the representatives of the United States armed forces, to accept a gift that, when you think about it from a strategic perspective, if there is a disaster as you had in Grand Bahama and it took a long time to bring relief to citizens, the intention of this gift here is to make that a part of history for us that because we will have stored here the necessities that can be delivered instantaneously to people who are in need right here on this very spot," he said.
The new warehouse is intended to significantly reduce the time line of providing disaster relief to those in need.
" I firmly believe that this warehouse will be most beneficial to the people of Grand Bahama and the islands that are situated in the northern Bahamas. This project has been in the making for quite some time and is long overdue," he said.
" Today we are happy that the warehouse project has been successfully completed and I would like to sincerely promise that my government will do its best to use it to its fullest utilization."
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is responsible for springing into action in times of preparedness and when the need arises to assist the people of the Bahamas in times of disaster.
Prime minister Christie said the challenge for NEMA is to identify all of the areas throughout the country that are vulnerable to disaster.
The warehouse, he added, will go a long way in helping to enhance the country's emergency response efforts.
Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville noted that the United States also provided training for members of the Grand Bahama Disaster Consultative Committee to manage the facility and equipment and supplies in excess of $400,000.
Darville said the government and NEMA intend to implement mandatory evacuation orders in low-lying areas throughout the island in order to decrease the chance of injury or death during a natural disaster.
General noted that the safety and security of the Bahamian people is the same as the safety and security of the people of the United States.
" We're one in the same. We're more than partners, more than neighbors. In many ways we're family," he said.
General Jacoby said the United States understands the challenges The Bahamas faces and he revealed that the relationship his team shares with NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell and his team is a special one.
" It's our pleasure to be the closest partners with The Bahamas. The security forces and Captain Russell's team that works at NEMA, we have a strong relationship that exceeds those of any other countries in the region and we're very proud of that," he said.
The gift of the warehouse, he noted, is an example of the United States' commitment to the partnership it shares with The Bahamas.
" It illustrates how fundamentally important we consider the safety and security of our two nations and I hope this warehouse and the associate supplies and equipment and training ensures that your citizens are assured that they're going to receive the help that they may need," General Jacoby said.
" I hope you think of it as also a symbol of our respect and gratitude for a neighbor of such graciousness and fidelity."
Published Friday, February 14, 2014