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Freight transport providers begin supplying storm-ravaged Bahamas

GlobalMedic relief supplies were loaded in Toronto on an Air Canada plane. [Photo Credit: GlobalMedic]

Larger air and ocean cargo operators are beginning to arrive in the Bahamas with emergency supplies days after Hurricane Dorian pulverized parts of the archipelago and made transportation there potentially treacherous.

American Airlines on Sept. 5 sent a Boeing 737 from Miami to Nassau to deliver more than 14,000 pounds of relief supplies to hurricane victims, the company said. Before the storm arrived, American  also sent 2,000 pounds of survival goods.

Air Canada also delivered a Global Medic response team and emergency kits free of charge from Toronto to Nassau, according to Airlink spokeswoman Emily Sperling. The kits contain a water purification solution to provide clean drinking water and hygiene items such as bars of soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and a solar light.

Airlink is a humanitarian freight broker that matches nongovernmental organizations with donated airfreight services.

Meanwhile, SEACOR Island Lines, which regularly operates small container vessels and landing craft from its base at Port Everglades, FL, said one of its vessels sailed to Freeport. The island sustained heavy damage, but the port is able to accept some small vessels at this point. Larger container vessels that would regularly call at Freeport, a large transshipment hub, are being rerouted to Kingston, Jamaica, and other ports.

SEACOR announced it is committing $250,000 in financial aid and in-kind logistics services to nonprofit relief agencies to help deliver food staples, basic construction materials and portable power generation units. It is working with Bahamian and U.S. government agencies to assess the extent of Dorian’s impact on local waterways and port infrastructure.

Carnival Cruise Line will send two ships from the Port of Baltimore and Port Canaveral, in Florida, to Freeport to deliver food, water and other relief supplies. The ships will call in Freeport as part of scheduled voyages with customers onboard, the company said.

The American Logistics Aid Network, which helps organize logistics for disaster relief organizations, is looking for donors to provide passenger vans, warehouse space, manpower and transportation on the U.S. mainland and in the Bahamas, according to an online list of needs.

Another charitable group, Direct Relief, said on its website that FedEx is transporting a shipment of antibiotics, wound care items, medication and other medical supplies to South Florida, where medical teams from the region are preparing to be airlifted to Nassau to provide health care. The shipment provides enough medicine and supplies for doctors and nurses to treat hundreds of patients.

Based on initial assessments, up to 75,000 people may be in need of medical care, according to Direct Relief.

Most supplies are arriving in the capital of Nassau, but getting them to the Abaco Islands and other locations is being hindered by flooding and communications blackouts, according to people involved in the relief efforts. Initially, efforts often smaller aircraft and ships. Jet Skis and Zodiac inflatable boats are being used to reach more isolated spots.

Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]