Dr Jonathan Stone, one of DFID’s humanitarian experts deployed to the Bahamas, appeared on BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme and Good Morning Britain today (Wednesday 4 September 2019) to discuss the UK’s role in the response to Hurricane Dorian.
He is part of a four-man team of DFID experts who are supporting the Bahamas National Emergency and Disaster management agencies in assessing and dealing with the intense damage caused by the hurricane.
On BBC Radio 4, where he was interviewed by Martha Kearney, he discussed the humanitarian impact of the hurricane and highlighted the positioning of RFA Mounts Bay, which is set to deliver relief supplies once the full extent of the damage has been assessed.
Hurricane Dorian has finally left the Bahamas. It was situated over Grand Bahama for over a day as a category 5. It was a very intense hurricane. It has now departed to the North, North West. I think some of the outer rain bands and winds affected the area, but it is only really now that access is opening up in that area. The results have been devastating. Its hit both Abaco and Grand Bahama and spent quite a long time with very intense rainfall…. Initial reports coming through were those of complete devastation and almost 90% of building destroyed.
The UK government is here and I’m leading a team of humanitarian experts to work with the Bahamas government to assess the situation and provide support where we can. We have RFA Mounts Bay, pre-positioned in the Caribbean each year, or a ship like it from June to November, during the Caribbean hurricane season to provide support to affected islands. And on that ship, we carry disaster relief supplies such as shelter kits, hygiene kits and water purification and such like. And a few days ago Met Office and other weather providers noticed that the storm was coming towards the Bahamas so we re-positioned the ship to be able to provide assistance as soon as possible and in doing so, we coordinated this team of humanitarian co-ordinators to work with the Bahamas government.
Because the hurricane was stationary over the islands for quite some time, the team coming to assess the exact needs there have been reasonably delayed and only just managing to get in, so it’s really hard to know just how many people are in need of life-saving assistance. We are ready to provide it along with the Bahamas government, but I imagine over the next day or so numbers will become much clearer.
During the Good Morning Britain interview, Jon explained the urgent need to get “aid to those most in need as quickly as possible”. The piece also featured a short interview with UK High Commissioner to the Bahamas, Sarah Dickson, who explained the strong relationship between the UK and Bahamas government.
There was also further coverage in BBC News and Mail Online that the UK has sent humanitarian experts to the Bahamas to begin immediate work on assessing the damage. The British Royal Navy auxiliary ship RFA Mounts Bay has been pre-positioned to the region to offer her support if required.
International Development Secretary Alok Sharma met with DFID staff who are responding to the hurricane alongside the Ministry of Defence, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.