NASSAU, The Bahamas – On Thursday, October 13, executives of Commonwealth Bank donated $100,000 to the Hurricane Matthew Relief fund, becoming one of the first corporate sponsors to do so, after the powerful storm passed through The Bahamas a week ago leaving damage in the millions.
On hand for the presentation ceremony at NEMA on Gladstone Road were the Rt Hon Perry Christie, Prime Minister; the Hon Shane Gibson, national hurricane coordinator; Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell, members of the hurricane financial committee Gowan Bowe and Mike Maura; and from Commonwealth Bank: Ian Jennings, President; Charles Knowles, VP & Chief Information Officer and Gina Greene, Marketing director.
Mr. Jennings said this is the first step towards donating; as the bank felt its responsibility to assist, which he hopes would encourage other corporate sponsors to donate to the relief effort.
He said the hurricane, which peaked to a Category 4 at 150mph, damaged not only the country’s infrastructure but residents experienced emotional damage as well.
Gowan Bowe of the hurricane relief financial committee said that monetary donations are critical as the storm impacted the centre of commerce of the country, Nassau. He too noted that the restoration effort would be a mammoth task and it is time for support and not criticism.
Thanking the bank for its donation, Minister Gibson, the national coordinator said it was only “a drop in the bucket” to assist in restoring the lives of thousands of Bahamians impacted by the storm.
He said that Bahamians were already stretched financially prior to the storm and the relief and restoration efforts are certainly beyond the Government’s capacity.
Mr. Gibson recalled previous successive devastating hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma, which severely impacted The Bahamas, but that Hurricane Matthew seems to be much greater.
The Prime Minister thanked the Bank for its generous donation, not only to NEMA but also to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
He pointed out that the residents impacted are already clients of the Bank via loans and many are maxed out financially.
In this vein, the Government will have to make a significant intervention; it has to be creative in restoring the lives of Bahamians.
The Prime Minister said the Government has yet to fully assess the impact of Hurricane Matthew already pegged at $100million. He also said the purpose of him signing the Exigency Order is to allow Bahamians to purchase, duty free, items they have lost during the storm.
Such items are building materials, household items, generators, vehicles, etc.
Regarding the appointment of the Hon Shane Gibson as national hurricane coordinator, the Prime Minister said the move is to ensure a quick response to recovery, accountability at the end of the day and to produce a document of the entire process.