1 million meals served in The Bahamas
Just over 5 weeks after Category 5 Hurricane Dorian devastated the northern islands of The Bahamas, World Central Kitchen has served our 1 millionth meal.
Logistics for #ChefsForBahamas have been incredibly complex. With such extensive damage on multiple islands, we have extended our operations to deliver meals by whatever means necessary. In this case, that included not only the use of 30 vehicles, but also sending 5 helicopters, 2 seaplanes, a 220-foot ship, an amphibious vehicle, and 4 speedboats to more than 250 delivery locations.
Dorian completely devastated the northern islands – it is the worst hurricane to hit The Bahamas and one of the strongest ever in the Atlantic. More than 60 people were killed and many, many more are still missing. Entire communities have been wiped out, and recovery is going to take years.
Arriving days ahead of Dorian’s landfall, WCK set up headquarters in Nassau, 80 miles south of the storm’s eye – and outside its path of major destruction. While starting to prepare sandwiches from the kitchen at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, our Relief Team worked to source several modes of transportation to reach the northern islands, including helicopters and seaplanes.
WCK was the first organization on the ground in Abaco after Dorian passed. When we arrived, communications, power, and water were all down. Now, more than a month later, only 10% of Abaco currently has piped water.
Our Relief Team immediately began bringing hot meals and sandwiches via helicopter from our kitchen in Nassau. We recruited local staff to help us navigate Great Abaco and the surrounding islands and quickly scaled up to serve meals at makeshift shelters in the government center, schools, a hospital, clinics, and churches, as well as in local neighborhoods.
As soon as we were able, our team built a kitchen in Marsh Harbour in order to cook hot meals onsite for deliveries – we are now serving at more than 100 locations on Abaco.
Off the western coast of Great Abaco is Moore’s Island. As WCK began delivering hot meals via helicopter, we listened as residents told us what else they needed to start the rebuilding process. We learned that the island’s dock was destroyed during the hurricane, so its residents had no way to receive deliveries of food or supplies. Additionally, they did not have access to clean water for cooking or drinking.
Our Relief Team set up two water desalination and filtration systems that turn ocean water into safe, potable drinking water. We also worked with the community to rebuild the dock with the goal of helping them get back to normal as soon as possible. While WCK is neither a water NGO nor a construction NGO, we will always work to rebuild a community’s capacity as quickly as possible, in whatever way necessary, so that they are able to provide food for themselves after a disaster. In this case, clean water and a functioning dock were two pieces necessary to achieve that goal.
While WCK teams were operating in Nassau and Abaco, we also had a third team in Freeport setting up a kitchen to serve Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama, the largest of the northern islands, was severely impacted by the hurricane, storm surge, and subsequent tornadoes. Our Freeport kitchen is utilizing the massive paella pans that our Chef Relief Team is known for to cook 25,000 meals each day. As in Abaco, we are working with local chefs and volunteers to cook, as well as to coordinate delivery and distribution across the island.
Our kitchen in Nassau continues to serve families who were forced to evacuate from the northern islands and have temporarily resettled around Nassau, either in shelters or with family, friends, and others who have opened their homes.
The road to recovery for The Bahamas is going to be long and challenging. We will continue to do our small part in ensuring that everyone has a hot plate of food, served with a comforting smile and words of hope.