FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Hurricane Irma barreled through the region as a massive and dangerous Category 5 storm, leaving in her wake a trail of death and devastation. This year, Grand Bahama was once again caught in Mother Nature’s crosshairs, as tornadic activity spawned by the severe weather once again displaced scores of Grand Bahamians from their homes and businesses.
No stranger to the ravages of storms, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) immediately sprung into action to lend its support to recovery efforts, which began immediately once the “all-clear” was given. Having developed a reputation as a long-standing corporate partner, BTC has already stepped up to provide residents on the island with charging stations for their various devices, and has launched a month-long donation campaign to encourage all residents to give to the ongoing efforts.
It’s BTC’s collaboration with local civic organizations, however, that has set the stage for even more hands-on community involvement and restoration. The company joined forces with civic group Our Grand Bahama (OGB), Facebook charity group HeadKnowles and the Bahamas Red Cross to bring relief to those residents in need. The partnership between BTC and other community leaders on an initiative of such widespread national importance was one which not only made sense, but also developed quickly in the critical hours following Irma’s passing.
“The partnership between BTC and these civic organizations is something that materialized overnight,” said Eldri Ferguson-Mackey, customer experience vice-president for Nassau and the Family Islands. “It was a very natural partnership for us, we not only service the communities affected by Irma but our team members live in these communities, which made it even more important for us to get involved on the ground level,” she explained.
As at noon on Tuesday, September 12, BTC team members and volunteers from OGB began manning the company’s Pioneers Way and Pyfrom Manor locations and accepted donations of clothing, nonperishable food items, toiletries and other relief supplies to be distributed.
“You can never predict devastation but you can always be ready to mobilize relief efforts immediately,” explained Our Grand Bahama founder Caline Newton. “Our Grand Bahama has been able to leverage our partnerships with groups like HeadKnowles to streamline recovery efforts and ensure that those in the most need can get the assistance they require,” she said.
While immediate recovery efforts will focus on assisting residents on Grand Bahama Island, many of whom were displaced by dangerous tornadoes, the project has since mushroomed to include communities across the length and breath of The Bahamas including Bimini, which was also severely impacted by the storm, and to islands in the southeastern Bahamas as well.
“BTC covers every island, rock and cay in The Bahamas and so it was extremely heartwarming to see our country managers and leads in other Family Islands step up to become a part of this initiative and volunteer to use their locations as assistance hubs as well,” noted Ferguson-Mackey. “While this is obviously a time of distress for many Bahamians, it is also an opportunity for us to demonstrate our spirit of brotherly love and togetherness as we work to rebuild and restore post Hurricane Irma.”