So today the Government, through the Speaker of the House, denied the Member of Parliament for Long Island the opportunity to make a Statement to Parliament on the status of the island post Hurricane Joaquin. All government MPs who wished to, have had their chance to speak in Parliament on this storm (though they have had yet to say anything of substance therein). WHEN AN MP IS DENIED THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK ON SUCH MATTERS, IT IS NOT SIMPLY THE MP WHO IS BEING SILENCED, IT IS EVERY SINGLE BAHAMIAN THAT MP REPRESENTS, whether you voted for that MP or not. An MP only has a voice because of the Bahamian people of their constituency. No MP can become an MP without you and me. AND THE PARLIAMENT BELONGS TO YOU AND ME. So, what happened today was that BAHAMIANS WERE TOLD NO IN THEIR OWN PARLIAMENT. Their condition was told no. Their plight was told no. Their needs were told no. Their voice was told no. Continue reading
In the aftermath of Joaquin’s devastation and the failed government response prior, during and after the storm, our elected officials are not only showing their lack of honor and integrity, but also a shameless lack of conscience. People and their children were forced to escape for their lives into their CEILINGS AND CARS FOR OVER A DAY because there were no shelters open for them to go to. Have you ever looked at the ceiling of where you live? Ever been up in there? Imagine spending at-least 20 hours in there terrified because if the water rises any higher, you and your children will drown right up in that ceiling. People were not able to safely protect life and property because by the time they knew what was going on, weather conditions made such attempts at precautions unsafe. If a structure’s windows and doors are properly secured before a hurricane, it can increase the chance of preventing roofs from being blown off the structures or being otherwise compromised. But with no appreciable advanced notice, how many would have had time or immediate ON-ISLAND resources to safely carry out such measures? Satellite phones that all island officials ought to have had were inoperable or officials did not know eachother’s numbers. People were unable to communicate with persons on their island or outside their island for as much as a week during and after the storm. People were forced to swim from settlement to settlement in a desperate quest for survival. No shelters available to go to. And those are just some of the horrors. We have not heard anywhere near the half of them all. I can personally attest WITH EVIDENCE to what I speak of regarding the communications failures as well as some of the harrowing rescue attempts being carried out during the height of Category 4 conditions in the Central & Southeast Bahamas of persons trapped or hunkered in homes that were crumbling and being ripped apart around and on top of them. Continue reading
The Government and Opposition leaders have yet to mention this to the nation, but the Emergency Relief Guarantee Fund, implemented in 1999, enables the government to stand as guarantor for commercial bank loans for the reconstruction of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed in a disaster. Residential homes can be eligible for a government guarantee of up to $50,000 max, and businesses up to $75,000 max. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE GOVERNMENT WILL PAY OFF YOUR LOAN FOR YOU, IT MEANS IT WILL SERVE AS YOUR CO-SIGNER TO HELP YOU GET APPROVED FOR THE LOAN. The government is authorized to guarantee up to $20 million total for all homes and $10 million total for businesses. One million dollars is allocated to this Fund each Budget Year as mandated by law for contingencies. And payments out of that Fund must be brought before Parliament.
Whenever The Bahamas suffers a natural disaster like a Hurricane, among the VERY FIRST Orders that are supposed to be IMMEDIATELY issued by the Minister of Finance (who is also Prime Minister) are what are called Exigency Orders. These Orders declare that a category of items will be permitted to be brought in duty-free for the relief and rebuilding of the all storm damaged islands covered under the Orders, and for the replacement of items destroyed during the storm like vehicles, household furniture, etc. The Orders also give a time frame for how long items will be permitted to be brought in duty free. An Order is supposed to be issued for each individual island affected. Continue reading
Flights and ships with relief supplies are going to ALL the islands affected by Hurricane Joaquin, NOT JUST ONE. Some Bahamians who do not have family on these islands or genuine concern for the lives affected need to stop being petty, hateful and heartless. On a simple common sense human level, Long Island has thousands more persons living there than the other islands, so by COURSE, that would and should mean they would end up getting more of the supplies BY VOLUME. That doesn’t mean supplies are not earmarked for all the other islands. But the problem is, people (including politicians) with no family on any of these islands or genuine human concern for our storm victims are not looking at HUMAN BEINGS on these islands, they are looking at POLITICS and in some cases SKIN COLOR – hence them being hateful and/or making noise without knowing what is really going on. And that’s the raw cold truth. It is the Bahamas Government that has not facilitated getting supplies to parts of Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguana, South Long Island, etc that have been cut off from the rest of the Bahamas and the world since last week. Bahamian and foreign donors alike already have so much supplies ready for those islands, they just need to be able to get to the areas still not reached. Alfred Gray himself said THE GOVERNMENT (AND ITS AGENCIES) HAS NOT GONE TO THESE AREAS BECAUSE OF FLOODING (EVEN THOUGH THAT’S WHAT BOATS AND AIR DROPS ARE FOR). And there are still many areas of South Long Island too that are not getting immediate help because of flood waters that have yet to recede. Continue reading
REPORT TO NATIONAL MEDIA: NEMA Chief Stephen Russell tells the national media today that while NEMA HAS NOT RECEIVED ANY REPORTS OF DEATHS OR MISSING PERSONS AT THIS TIME, NEMA still has to go “door to door and street to street to satisfy itself” that there are no [dead] bodies in any of the homes or structures on the storm ravaged islands. Several areas of Long Island, Acklins, and Mayaguana remain cut off from other areas due to flood waters that still have not yet receded. Communications to some of these areas had taken almost a week to be established.
NATIONAL MEDIA REPORT – Wednesday, October 7
What we have seen Bahamians come together and accomplish for Hurricane Joaquin’s aftermath is nothing short of remarkable, outstanding and a tide-turner in Bahamians being able to see what we can accomplish for one another if we simply come together, drop all personal agendas, and combine resources of all kinds toward meeting the most important goals in life – saving lives, preserving lives and rescuing the wounded, the traumatized and the defenseless. Those of us who before may have believed Bahamians couldn’t do this, now see what I have been saying to Bahamians on this blog for over three years – YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A BIG NAME TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. This culture we’ve been taught of sitting back and waiting hat in hand on politicians, only to continue to be enslaved by them, is being BROKEN. Continue reading