Samaritan's Purse in Calgary sends aid to Bahamas

The charitable Christian organisation reported on Wednesday that it has "airlifted over 30 tons of emergency items and more than a dozen disaster relief team specialists" to the Bahamas after getting the go-ahead to depart.

Organisation is airlifting over 30 tons of emergency items to help rebuild after Hurricane Dorian

Volunteers walk under the wind and rain from Hurricane Dorian through a flooded road as they work to rescue families in the Bahamas on Tuesday. (Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press)

It took just three days for Hurricane Dorian to ravage the Bahamas and spark a humanitarian crisis, and now Samaritan's Purse in Calgary has organized aid to send to the country. 

The Christian organization reported on Wednesday that it has "airlifted over 30 tons of emergency items and more than a dozen disaster relief team specialists" to the Bahamas.

Those emergency items came from its warehouse in the U.S. due to its proximity to the disaster, but the organization's international disaster response manager says that if more are required, it may come from a second warehouse located in Calgary. 

"[The Calgary] warehouse, if need be, will also bring things from here later on as we see what the needs [are] on the ground," David Bock told CBC Calgary on Wednesday.

According to Bock, some of the disaster relief team specialists responding to the crisis — including the team lead — are also Canadian.

An aerial view shows damage at the Freeport airport after Hurricane Dorian hit the Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas on Wednesday. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

The storm initially swept through the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane.

It has since moved away from the island nation, and is now heading to Florida and the Carolinas as a downgraded Category 2 storm.

According to estimates provided by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, it has devastated 13,000 homes and left 62,000 people in need of access to clean drinking water.

Bock says part of the Samaritan's Purse relief effort will target these needs.

"We're sending a number of aid materials, specifically plastic … to provide people with shelter," he said. "As well, water filtration materials, including two water filtration units that can turn salty water into clean water."

After the initial emergency response is complete, Brock says, the organization will evaluate its next steps. 

"We're rebuilding homes and working with communities long after [disasters are over] with agriculture projects, with fishing, so we have experience with providing that aid afterwards," Bock said. 

"We'll evaluate as we continue to see what the needs are and … how long we're able to provide aid as this disaster develops."

According to its website, Samaritan's Purse has previously sent response teams to deal with crises such as flooding in Serbia. 

However, the organization is not without controversy; the CBC reported in 2016 that it had fired volunteers for supporting gay marriage and abortion rights. 

With files from Tahirih Foroozan


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