Over the past six weeks, people displaced by the strongest storm to ever hit the Bahamas have opened up and let me into their lives. With each mother, nurse, son and social worker who have spoken of those unforgettable days when Hurricane Dorian passed through, I am reminded that even the “normal” everyday tasks we all carry out have changed for so many who weathered the storm. In an instant, everything we are used to can be turned upside down.
Bridging that gap between the ever familiar and a “new normal” can be hard. However, I’ve seen firsthand how the Red Cross is helping to bring a sense of normalcy and comfort when it’s needed most.
Let’s pause for a second and think of an average routine on a weekday:
Every day, do you…
Turn on the lights?
With generators scarce in some neighborhoods, some families still don’t have electricity. Imagine trying to race the sun to complete your errands, household tasks and homework.
That burden is starting to be lifted as the Red Cross and other agencies provide solar powered lights in places like the Abaco Islands.
Take a shower?
For many, access to utilities has become challenging, as running water is still sporadic in some parts of the islands.
A grandmother of three lets me know she’s grateful for buckets from the Red Cross, which she uses to bathe.
Go to school?
A mother of two kids in second and fourth grade tells me she’s had to uproot their lives from Abaco and transfer them to a new school on Nassau. They’ve been without school uniforms and workbooks until now.
She was able to use the financial assistance she received from the Red Cross to buy new outfits for her kids so they’d no longer feel left out in school.
Flush the toilet?
Without a reserve of water, flushing automatic toilets is impossible. One solution is to fill up a collapsible jerry can—like the ones we’re distributing across the Bahamas—with water and have it on hand the next time the power goes out.
Heat up leftovers?
Families who have lost everything still need a way to eat.
With the help of USAID, the Red Cross has distributed portable stoves across the island of Grand Bahama. “I usually make grits, oatmeal, rice or mac and cheese,” said a single mother, grateful for the extra help.
Cross the street?
If you are used to the slow, leisurely pace of living in a small fishing village, imagine the shock of evacuating to a busy city on another island. A simple task like crossing or walking down the road can cause anxiety.
Trained psychologists and nurses are on hand to provide mental health support to evacuees across the islands, helping to comfort them in a time of extreme transition.
Months after the storm, the Bahamas Red Cross, with the support of the American Red Cross and the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network, continues to provide relief and support to those most affected by Hurricane Dorian. For its part, the American Red Cross has committed $6.1 million towards recovery efforts so far and has deployed more than 35 disaster relief specialists to the Bahamas. Follow updates on our Hurricane Dorian relief projects at redcross.org/dorian.