Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers today joined forces with the public in a massive mobilisation of aid for the hurricane-hit Bahamas.
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant-Major Dean Rubaine was stationed at the Hamilton Seventh-Day Adventist Church on King Street, the main centre for donated supplies, as liaison officer with Logistics Branch officers on board the Royal Navy ship HMS Protector.
The Antarctic patrol vessel, berthed in Hamilton en route to the polar region, will make a diversion to deliver island-donated aid to devastated Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands.
Sergeant-Major Rubaine said: “I’m not surprised at the amount of people here. There was a queue when we opened up at 9.30am and people have told me all the discount warehouses in the country are full of people buying things to donate.”
The soldier added that he was already stacking donated goods on pallets so they can be easily loaded on board HMS Protector and that other RBR soldiers stood ready to help transfer the cargo to the ship tomorrow.
Among those who stopped off to donate goods was John Rankin, the Governor.
Mr Rankin said: “I came to play my own small part in helping to give much needed assistance to the people of the Bahamas.
“I’ve already seen a huge response from the community here and all the volunteers from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church who are helping.
“There are about 70,000 people in immediate need of humanitarian aid in the Bahamas and the International Red Cross estimates that 45 per cent of houses in Abaco and Grand Bahama have been severely damaged or destroyed.
“These are essential supplies that can help them get through these immediate days.”
Mr Rankin added that the Royal Navy’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Mounts Bay, stationed in the Caribbean region for security and disaster relief operations, was already in the Bahamas with tonnes of emergency supplies and specialist British Army engineers.
He said: “What Bermuda is doing is contributing to the overall humanitarian effort.”
Wayne Caines, the national security minister, who approached his home church for volunteers and the use of its large hall as a collection point, said: “We believe in the best of Bermuda and this is an example of that.
“People from all walks of life, political affiliations and racial make-up have been dropping things off.
“Every store in Bermuda is jammed with people buying things to bring here. This is the best of what Bermuda is and we as a country have a lot to be proud of.”
Mr Caines added: “No one person should take credit for this. This is Team Bermuda.”
David Steede, pastor of the Hamilton church, said: “We got the call yesterday morning that they needed our facilities …. I said ‘absolutely, yes’.
“I had to get some volunteers here and they are scheduled to work shifts all the way to midnight.”
Mr Steede added: “There are also some people who are not members of our church who just came to help.
“Parts of the Bahamas have been devastated and they are in a much worse state than we are today. The least we can do is to help them in their time of need.
“This is why we exist — to lift up humanity when they are down.”