USAID Administrator Mark Green and Chargé D'affaires Stephanie Bowers' Press Conference on U.S. Assistance to The Bahamas


For Immediate Release

Monday, September 9, 2019
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:

September 8, 2019
Odyssey Aviation Nassau Airport
Nassau, Bahamas

CHARGÉ d'AFFAIRES BOWERS: -- in Nassau. He will actually now be in charge of the disaster response efforts for the U.S. Government here in (inaudible). So he will be leading the whole-of-government effort that is led by USAID. We also had (inaudible) where we talked about our response efforts and how we're going to support the National Emergency Management Agency moving forward.

In addition to the additional assistance that has arrived today from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Coast Guard has sent something called an IMAT, an Incident Management Assistance Team, to also support USAID in its efforts to embed in the National Emergency Management Agency and support NEMA's efforts (inaudible). All we can do to coordinate (inaudible) those efforts so that we can make sure we get the Bahamian people (inaudible) any humanitarian assistance they need. And with that, I will turn it over to the USAID Administrator.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Great, thank you, Chargé. So, we are here at the request of the Prime Minister to help address acute humanitarian needs. We stand obviously with the people of the Bahamas. We look forward to working closely with the Prime Minister in his efforts to provide relief, and to help in recovery. I'd like to turn it over to Tim Callaghan. You just heard that Tim will be our lead on the ground. He's a veteran of disasters in the region before. I have every confidence in him.

Final thing I want to say to emphasize what the Chargé said: This is all of the U.S. government from the highest levels. I've spoken with the White House. They're asking the right questions. They're sending us here because we do stand with this government and the people of The Bahamas. We want them to know that we will be there with them. So, Tim.

MR. CALLAGHAN: Thank you. So, as Chargé Bowers and the administrator said, we met with the Government. We are here to support the Prime Minister and his Government. We're looking at -- and we're here to work with Chargé Bowers and her team. We're looking at all emergency, immediate needs. Everything from search and rescue. We have a team on the ground. We're bringing experts in, as Chargé Bowers talked about. Experts who can support on how to manage a large incident, supporting NEMA.

We also have experts that we're looking at the key emergency needs, meaning water, food, shelter, health. We're working with all the international partners. But again, everything we're doing is in support of the Prime Minister and the Government and the people of The Bahamas. And I will remain here working with the Chargé and the Prime Minister, again, to address quickly and appropriately the needs. And again, as the Administrator said, this will be a whole of government response. So, if there are areas that we need to pull a certain piece from the U.S. Government, based on identified need, we will do that. We will do that quickly in coordination with the government, Chargé Bowers, and her team. Thank you.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Thank you. So, the U.S. Government is already donated 2.8 million dollars in humanitarian assistance. We recognize that's a down payment on the need. But again, this is something that has the attention of the highest levels of the U.S. Government, and we're here to help. With that, we'd be happy to take a few questions.

QUESTION: Can I ask -- you've been doing this for many, many years. You've seen many disasters. How does this one compare?

MR. CALLAGHAN: Yeah. So, I've done a lot of hurricanes in my career. I was the lead in Dominique and St. Maarten two years ago. I think there's clearly areas here that we saw today that have been absolutely devastating. And again, the way the storm went, there's other areas that weren't touched as badly. So I think we have to focus on the areas that have been most impacted, and what the emergency, immediate needs are as I outlined a bit ago.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Just to emphasize that. So, as we flew over, we see some areas in which cars are going back and forth, and there's traffic, and daily commerce and such. And then there are communities that have been destroyed, absolutely devastated. It's almost like a focused nuclear attack. And so, the needs in those areas are acute, and they're immediate, and they're serious.

QUESTION: (Off-mike).

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: This is what we do to help make sure that aid is appropriately coordinated. We just got done meeting with a number of our humanitarian partners. NGOs, international partners, sharing information, working closely with the Prime Minister. So, absolutely coordination. No room for duplication, no room for stepping on each other's toes. Our job is to help provide order and support to the prime minister.

QUESTION: (Off-mike).

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: What I'm saying to you is: we are here to make sure that there is absolute coordination. You have a leader here on the ground working closely with the Chargé across the U.S. Government. We are very focused, and we're focused with our partners.

MR. BABINGTON: Any other questions?

QUESTION: (Off-mike).

CHARGÉ d'AFFAIRES BOWERS: I did not witness any security situation on the ground while we were on the ground. I know that the Minister of National Security has been working closely with the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, Royal Bahamas Police Force, and we have supported helping them get additional officers on the ground. I have spoken with both the Police Commissioner and the defense -- and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force commander. Both have told me that they have augmented their staff. I've seen it, so I know there's a lot of social media out there, and I encourage people to please fact check before they share information that may not be accurate.

QUESTION: (Off-mike).

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: So, the most important thing I can say is go to And that's an access point that shows you partners who we have vetted and we're working with. And it's a great place also to see what has been done to date, and to provide clarity and context.

MR. CALLAGHAN: And we always talk about donating cash is best. Because again there are a lot of good partners who are coordinating well and working. And so, again, what we don't want is to have items come in that may not be appropriate. There's a lot of good groups that are providing health support, shelter support, and - those are the groups we want to support. Again, to work quickly in coordination with the government.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: So, the compassion of the American people is obvious. It's remarkable. I was in Miami all day yesterday meeting with local officials, and so many people are pouring out their compassion. And we're seeing donations and people are anxious. Part of the reason that we're here is to make sure that we can channel it appropriately in support of the Prime Minister's plans. So that there isn't, there isn't that frustration, so that we have clear coordination, that we have order and that we can make sure that we get what's needed to where it's needed as quickly as possible.

Last updated: February 06, 2020

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