Water Mission, a nonprofit Christian engineering organization, is mobilizing to provide safe water to the Bahamas in response to the widespread flooding and devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.
One of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, Hurricane Dorian brought sustained winds of over 185 miles per hour, storm surges of around 20 feet, and nearly 30 inches of rainfall to various parts of the Bahamas. Dorian made a direct hit on the Abacos. Many news reports estimate that more than 13,000 homes are severely damaged or destroyed. As of the writing of this press release, five deaths have been confirmed, according to multiple news sources. Conditions remain unsafe to answer the more than 2,000 distress calls that have been made.
With more than 18 years of disaster response experience, Water Mission is well-prepared to respond to the needs of communities with emergency and long-term safe water solutions. The organization is in contact with Bahamian municipalities about bringing a reverse osmosis safe water system to the Abacos to provide safe water access for the communities most devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Reverse osmosis is a specialized water purification system for saltwater. There are little to no freshwater sources in this area, so reverse osmosis is an immediate way to purify water for the impacted communities.
“While the devastation resulting from any disaster is heartbreaking, the impact from Hurricane Dorian is doubly so as the Abacos have been the location of our family retreats for the last 25 years. The people in these islands are our friends,” said Water Mission President George C. Greene, IV. “Our hearts are breaking for them as we begin to see the level of devastation and destruction. Safe water is critical following any natural disaster. In this area of the Bahamas, the primary source of drinking water came from rainwater collection systems in individual homes.”
Some areas of the Abacos have access to a municipal system that was supplied by a deep well on the mainland. In both rainwater and deep well cases, it is likely that saltwater contamination has taken place. The approximately 20-foot surge, combined with sustained 185-mile-per-hour winds, has likely resulted in complete destruction of any stored-water supplies as well as significant saltwater intrusion in the aquifer.
“Water Mission is working with partners on the ground to mobilize a safe water system as quickly as possible. Given the lack of freshwater sources, reverse osmosis is the only guaranteed option to provide access to safe water,” Greene said. “This storm is devastating, and many people are still in danger. Please keep the Bahamas in your prayers as emergency officials are working to rescue those in immediate danger now and in the coming days.”
Donations to Water Mission’s Hurricane Dorian Disaster Response can be made to watermission.org/hurricanedorian. Water Mission has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the past 13 years. To learn more or stay updated on Water Mission’s relief efforts, visit watermission.org or follow @water_mission on Twitter and Instagram and @WaterMissions on Facebook.