Grand Bahama Port Authority Supports Dedication of the Evangeline Jervis Hurricane Shelter

Sarah St. George, Acting Chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, delivers heartfelt remarks at the dedication of the Evangeline Jervis Hurricane Shelter. St. George highlighted the resilience of Grand Bahamians and announced the $25,000 donation from the GBPA for a state-of-the-art generator, ensuring the shelter’s preparedness for future storms.

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), led by Acting  Chairman Sarah St. George, proudly joined the Freeport Seventh-Day Adventist Church for the dedication of the Evangeline Jervis Hurricane Shelter. This event marks a significant milestone in enhancing the island’s resilience and preparedness for future storms, occurring almost a week into the start of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane season.

The Evangeline Jervis Hurricane Shelter is the first and only dedicated purpose-built hurricane shelter in The Bahamas. The 4,200 sq ft multi-purpose facility, located at Beachway and Gambier Drive, can accommodate 300 people during a storm. It features restrooms, showers, an industrial kitchen, a water well, and a generator. The shelter was constructed at a cost of over $500,000, funded through donations from the government, local and international private donors, and NGOs.

Sarah St. George delivered heartfelt remarks during the ceremony, emphasizing the remarkable resilience of Grand Bahamians and the contributions of the GBPA and the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation (GBDRF) to hurricane recovery efforts.

“Today, we honor the legacy of Sister Evangeline and Sister Alicia Jervis Garland, whose dedication to feeding and clothing the needy has inspired this project,” said St. George. “Our $25,000 donation was used to purchase and install a state-of-the-art generator, ensuring the shelter’s resilience during storms. Additionally, another $21,000 was contributed by the Hayward and St. George families.”

The project has seen its estimated $855,000 cost reduced by nearly 25% through discounts and volunteer work, with expenditures currently at $520,000. The final phase includes the installation of air conditioning, a fire safety system, and furnishings such as cots, chairs, tables, and kitchenware, requiring an additional $100,000.

Rupert Hayward, Director of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, received a token of appreciation prior to touring the new Evangeline Jervis Hurricane Shelter in Grand Bahama. The Evangeline Jervis Hurricane Shelter is the first and only dedicated purpose-built hurricane shelter in The Bahamas. The Hayward and St. George families also contributed an additional $21,000 to the shelter.

“Today’s event prompted me to reflect on GBPA’s lessons in resilience,” added St. George. “In 2016, we established the GB Disaster Relief Foundation to address the humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Matthew. This foundation played a crucial role during Hurricane Dorian in 2019, providing essential supplies and support to the vulnerable, including the elderly, disabled, and single mothers.”

During Hurricane Dorian, the foundation provided generators, food, water, and tools island-wide for months. They also assisted 120 churches from East to West with the help of Pastor Eddie Victor. The foundation partnered with SBP and Rotary Muck and Gut to repair 350 homes across the island, spending close to $2 million on rebuilds and furnishings.

“While we continued to rebuild from Dorian, Covid-19 struck, compounding our emergency response with hurricane recovery amid a global pandemic,” St. George remarked. “During COVID, our foundation donated $100,000 to various feeding programs while GBPA extended support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through the RISE program, with Partners which provided $4 million in grants to 400 businesses.”

St. George emphasized the GBPA’s unwavering commitment to the community, stating, “100% of the funds collected by the Grand Bahama Port Authority go back into our community. No dividends have ever been paid to shareholders out of the GBPA. Our executives, managers, dedicated employees, and shareholders have always gone the extra mile to support Grand Bahamians. We love this community and this is our home. We are happy to serve, and we do it to the best of our ability.”

The GBPA’s efforts during crises, including hurricane preparedness and recovery, highlight the organization’s dedication to serving and supporting the community. St. George concluded, “Freeport is about growing our community together. The name Evangeline means ‘Good News Shining,’ and in that spirit, you can count on us at GBPA to help you get this magnificent shelter finished.”

Executives of the Grand Bahama Port Authority in attendance at the dedication of the Evangeline Jervis Hurricane Shelter, demonstrating their steadfast commitment to the well-being and resilience of Grand Bahama.

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