State engineer, Western Nevada College professor aids hurricane recovery in Bahamas
Lior Singer practices what he preaches.
“I keep telling my students to find professional careers where they will have the most impact on society and their communities,” said Singer. “I hope any engineer, doctor, lawyer, or even a clown, will go lend a hand in the next international crisis.”
Singer, an environmental engineer for the state of Nevada and a part-time professor at Western Nevada College, recently returned from the Bahamas where he spent more than two weeks helping in the aftermath of hurricane Dorian.
The hurricane hit the Bahamas in September and was the worst natural disaster in the country’s history, killing 61 people with more people still missing, and causing $7 billion in damages.
“You could smell the death in the air. Whenever the wind blowed, you could smell dead bodies,” said Singer. “And if there was no wind, there were mosquitos and flies.”
Singer, a Carson City resident originally from Israel, went down there with IsraAID, an Israel-based non-governmental organization that responds to emergencies around the globe. Before moving to Nevada five years ago, Singer worked seven months for IsraAID in Kenya and was still in touch with the group.
“This time, because it was so close to the U.S., they contacted me personally and asked if I could go,” said Singer. “They wanted someone there as fast as they could.”
Singer said he filed a last-minute request for leave from his job with the state.
“My state job approved it and gave me their blessing. In the college, I got other professors to fill in for me,” said Singer. “My wife was an amazing support.”
Singer worked primarily on the Grand Bahamas and Abaco, the island hardest hit by Dorian.
Singer worked to deliver thousands of gallons of water daily to the residents. A facility to desalinate water was in production, but water had to be trucked everywhere.
He also worked on a study of the aquifer, which had been contaminated with salt water due to the hurricane.
“The hydrology of the island is very complex, has different layers of salinity in the ground water, like a lasagna, and we came up with the proper ways to manage it,” said Singer.
While on Abaco he stayed with Team Rubicon, an NGO founded by U.S. Marines William McNulty and Jacob Woo.
“It felt like a military base. We slept on cots, took showers with a gallon of water, ate MRE meals, lights out at the same time,” said Singer.
On the Grand Bahamas, where the west side of the island was spared, Singer stayed in a house donated by Airbnb while he helped out on the east side of the island, where there was damage.
Singer came back last month and is still consulting on the Bahamas with IsraAID via phone.
Would he do it all over?
“Will I do it again? Yes, it’s not even a question,” said Singer.
“Water is the best way to put out a fire, not to start a new one. Water is a good solution for peace.”