SINT MAARTEN/THE BAHAMAS– K1 DIRECT, K1 Britannia Foundation’s Disaster Relief & Crisis Team, has rounded off their relief efforts in The Bahamas. Earlier this month, the team of 13 volunteer members from St. Maarten & Curacao were deployed to assist with relief, being open to assist where the team was most needed.
K1 DIRECT St. Maarten and Curacao have been diligently training in various fields of disaster management and collaborated with various organizations and initiatives on ground to provide aid and assistance. The team’s relief efforts took place within three main areas of data collection, shelter assessment and distribution management.
In Nassau, the team worked with HeadKnowles, a local disaster relief foundation, and other private entities to assist with the registration of evacuees from Abaco and Freeport into Nassau, and to assist with providing information for accommodation, additional supplies, and medical support.
Co-Manager of K1 DIRECT Iris Hakkens attended various EOC (Emergency Operations Center) partner meetings and led the process of assessing properties that could be potential short to long-term shelters, due to emergency shelters becoming over capacity.
Hakkens elaborated saying, “Upon arriving in Nassau, through a meeting with key persons of various humanitarian aid organizations, we found a few persons who assisted with providing supplies needed for different shelters such as cots, food, etc – but no one was really addressing the need for additional shelters.
“Each shelter in Nassau was over capacity and it was imperative that someone needed to work with the international humanitarian aid standards to assess properties to provide additional accommodation for the influx of evacuees.”
K1 worked closely with IOM United Nations (The International Organization for Migration), UKAID, USAID, Rotary International, American Red Cross, Bahamas Resolve, persons of The Bahamas private sector to investigate suitable properties. Jan Willem Wegdam, Team Leader of IOM in The Bahamas, shared his experience with K1 DIRECT adding, “I associate K1 DIRECT with positive energy, coming with fully open arms and asking where can we help. Together we identified many tasks that had to be done, and in no time K1 DIRECT was proactive, solving challenges, knocking on doors and overall a good partner to have.”
In Freeport, Grand Bahama, the group worked closely with the Hon. Senator Katherine Forbes-Smith, various ESFs and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to help manage the distribution process of government supplies to the most affected neighborhoods in Grand Bahama, as well as warehouse set up and management. K1 DIRECT worked alongside volunteers from Public Treasury, Urban Renewal Grand Bahama, Team Rubicon, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, US Coast Guard, and others.
Co-Manager of K1 DIRECT, Alan Schet added, “The warehouse management process was slightly unsystematic and we were able to remedy that by providing a bit of structure. That process was well received by the persons involved which allowed us to be more effective. The distribution of goods became more streamlined and targeted which allowed for more effective registering of goods.”
K1 DIRECT management also attended various EOC meetings in Freeport, Grand Bahama to find ways to collaborate and investigate ways in which K1 DIRECT would be able to play a necessary role in the relief efforts.
As Grand Bahama was one of the most affected islands, everybody that the team had worked with had suffered loss of loved ones. The team also provided trauma counseling and took the time to comfort and encourage those who lives that been affected by tragedy.
Thirumur shared, “We were all truly touched by the humility and open arms by the Bahamians as they welcomed us. Many persons commented that as a relief team coming from St. Maarten, it showed support from the region and also because we had been through Irma, they were open to letting us provide support knowing that we could empathize with their struggle.”
Hon. Senator Katherine Forbes-Smith, NEMA Coordinator for Grand Bahama shared appreciation for K1 DIRECT’s time in Freeport stating “It was almost like K1 was the first on the ground and I really appreciate that the team just jump right in, no task was too great or too little and so I’m so excited that K1 was a part of our recovery. I’ll always remember K1 DIRECT and we really appreciate the take charge attitude to get the job done.”
The foundation would like to extend their gratitude to the various persons in The Bahamas, as well as in St. Maarten and Curacao, who supported the team in numerous ways through accommodation, transportation, supplies, networks and donations that helped make this mission possible.
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Team member sorting through canned goods at the warehouse.