Humanitarian

Hurricane Dorian: Royal Navy Sends Ship And Extra Medics

HMS Protector will arrive in the Bahamas on Monday, while a team of 18 military medics arrived on Saturday evening.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian on Abaco Island (Picture: MOD).

The Royal Navy has deployed extra medics and is sending another ship to the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.

A team of 18 military medical staff arrived in the Bahamas on Saturday evening and will provide emergency care, surgery and intensive care to those in need.

They joined support ship RFA Mounts Bay which has been delivering aid to the islands since Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, HMS Protector has been re-tasked to the Bahamas.

The Royal Navy's only ice patrol ship is set to sail to the islands where it will provide further support to the disaster relief efforts. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the "Royal Navy is on hand to help": "They have acted swiftly to deploy an extra 18 medical personnel from the UK to the Bahamas, where they will provide desperately needed expertise.

"As part of this quick response, we’re working closely with our US counterparts in delivering assistance to the Bahamas."

"Our thoughts remain with those affected and those who have lost loved ones and homes."

British military personnel have been working alongside other partners in the region, including the US Coast Guard, whose helicopters have refuelled on RFA Mounts Bay.

The medics deploying to the Bahamas are held at high-readiness and have to be ready to go anywhere in the world within 48 hours. 

The Navy has so far provided emergency shelter and hygiene kits for hundreds of people, more than 8,000 bottles of water and hundreds of days worth of food.

HMS Protector (Picture: MoD).
HMS Protector will sail to the Bahamas from Bermuda on Monday (Picture: MOD).

A total of 43 people are known to have died in the Bahamas as a result of Hurricane Dorian which has left thousands of people awaiting evacuation.

Speaking to Forces News on Friday, RFA Mounts Bay's Commanding Officer, Captain Rob Anders, praised his teams' "around the clock" rescue efforts

On Thursday, the ship's Wildcat helicopter saved a British citizen as well as a mother and her three children from the rubble.

The British Government has pledged £1.5 million to help deliver aid, saying it is estimated that several hundred British nationals live in the worst affected areas of the Bahamas.

Army personnel from the Royal Engineers and Royal Fleet Auxillary have also been part of the relief efforts. 

At the UK High Commission, they have been busy liaising with RFA Mounts Bay and all the British teams to coordinate efforts.

However, the role was only created recently and the Commissioner had only been in post for a few days when Hurricane Dorian hit.

"My job was to come here and open the mission," Sarah Dickson, British High Commissioner to the Bahamas.

Within two weeks of her arrival, her mission changed completely. It drastically switched from opening an embassy to coordinating a humanitarian response.

The aid provided by RFA Mounts Bay, who was in the area preemptively ahead of hurricane season, was crucial to first response in the Bahamas.

"They were trying to help the people in desperate need in the immediate aftermath of the destruction caused by [Hurricane] Dorian," said Ms Dickson.

RFA Mounts Bay has been in charge of distributing non-food items to the islands and offering medical attention to those who require it, as well as clearing the area from debris. The latter is particularly important, as having access to roads allows other agencies to reach the affected zones and provide different kinds of aid to the people of the Bahamas.

"We have had a further deployment of military [personnel] from New Providence to reinforce them," explained Ms Dickson.

Bahamas island of Abaco post-Hurricane Dorian
The island of Abaco was one of the most affected by Hurricane Dorian (Picture: MOD).

Many people who managed to escape the worst of the hurricane found refuge on the island of New Providence. Survivors are being sent to Nassau, the country’s capital city.

Anthony is one of them. He was in Abaco when Hurricane Dorian struck the islands: "I was in the middle of the storm, locked up in my apartment and felt sure that I was safe."

However, the strength of the hurricane burst his windows and "the water came in a hurry":

"I was able to put my wife on my back and swim to safety."

Anthony's main concern is other people struck by the storm: "Forget about the houses, the boats and all the material things... we need to be rebuilding the human spirit with trust and love for each other."

His younger brother Emmett is a school bus driver and used the vehicle to help them leave the island.

"We got caught in the tail part of the storm, in the road with almost 100 people in the bus," he explained. 

Emmett tried to point the bus strategically, changing position as the wind changed.

"The wind lifted up the back of the bus. Twice," he recalled.

They spent two hours stuck in the same position. Praying, he said, helped him and some passengers cope with the experience.

As a result of seeing so many dead bodies on the road, he said to be traumatised when he falls asleep:

"We have gone nothing, but we have got our life."