Going on a month after Hurricane Joaquin’s devastation, at least 16 Bahamians are still living in the small clinic on Crooked Island because they are homeless with nowhere else to go. The Prime Minister, in his last address to Parliament, did not give a timeline for when the restoration of electricity there would begin, all he said was work should begin “soon”. As for all residents there who are now homeless, all he said was accommodations need to be found for them – but said nothing of what the government was doing about that obvious need. Almost 70% of the homes there are said to have been destroyed. A private citizen – and not the government – is repairing the government schools on the island, according to the Prime Minister’s Communication to Parliament. Continue reading
This is what the Prime Minister said in Parliament today. Eight hundred thirty-six homes is the figure the Prime Minister says has been given to him by the Department of Social Services. Bahamas – do you realize how many Bahamians in total, including children, each one of those homes potentially represent? That figure has yet to be given. And that figure can grow because assessments are still being done on Long Island.
The count given of number of homes destroyed (given in this exact order by the Prime Minister):
Acklins – 123
Crooked Island – 50
Rum Cay – 23
San Salvador – 227
Long Island – 413
Everyone who is sitting reading this with a roof over your head, stop and think about how many people no longer have what you currently have. At-least 836 homes gone.
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
Readers know my documented articles and postings (primarily on Facebook Blog Page) on Hurricane Joaquin from the Tuesday night that the government decided to issue its first storm watch for the Central Bahamas. Readers also know the exact timeline I detailed for every single decision of government with respect to those watches and warnings from that late Tuesday night until the Saturday morning when all watches and warnings were discontinued – I need not repeat all of that documented work here in this post. Back then, a few people wanted to call those articles about our life and safety “being political” – as if a hurricane can vote. I will only repeat what I said back then – a formal inquiry into the government’s response to Hurricane Joaquin needs to be held, and the RIGHT PEOPLE, STARTING WITH THE CABINET OF THE BAHAMAS (because that is where the Constitutional responsibility begins) need to be held and made accountable for all that should and could have been done, but was not done for The Bahamian people in this natural disaster. Continue reading
THOUSANDS of Bahamians’ lives have been damaged and forever changed by Hurricane Joaquin. In life, when stories no longer dominate the headlines, we tend to forget about the PEOPLE behind those headlines, and tend to think their struggle must not be that bad if they are no longer the most trending topic, but that’s not true. WE HAVE YET TO GET A DETAILED ASSESSMENT & RECOVERY REPORT FOR EVERY SINGLE ISLAND DEVASTATED BY JOAQUIN. HOW ARE EACH AND EVERY RESIDENT & FAMILY MAKING IT? WHAT ARE THEIR SPECIFIC NEEDS TO-DATE?
WE NEED THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ANSWERED IN FULL: 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.
A week after the passage of Joaquin and days after the Prime Minister said he would sign Exigency Orders for the islands impacted by Hurricane Joaquin, the Notice of Exigency has finally been issued tonight – BUT THERE ARE PROBLEMS:
1 – NO EXEMPTION HAS BEEN DECLARED TO REBUILD & REPLACE FARMING AND FISHERIES INDUSTRY ITEMS, AS HAS BEEN DONE IN PREVIOUS EXIGENCY ORDERS FOR PREVIOUS HURRICANES. The economy and livelihoods of Family Islands like Long Island as an example, consist significantly of farming and fisheries. Farms and fisheries vessels and materials have been completely destroyed. WHY HAVE THESE ITEMS NOT BEEN INCLUDED FOR DUTY EXEMPTIONS AS IN PREVIOUS EXIGENCY ORDERS?
2 – REBUILDING & REPLACEMENT ITEMS – The Notice says that the following building and replacement items can be brought in duty-free for 90 days – Building materials; Plumbing fixtures and materials; Household furniture, furnishing and appliances; Generators and Motor vehicles. IN PAST EXIGENCY ORDERS, ISLANDS THAT SUFFERED CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE HAD BEEN GIVEN AT-LEAST 6 MONTHS TO BRING IN THESE ITEMS DUTY FREE INSTEAD OF ONLY 90 DAYS. Also, Electrical fixtures & materials are not listed for exemption as were listed in previous exigency orders. And what about critical machines & equipment for businesses? Continue reading
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