Turks and Caicos, September 6th, 2017 – Providenciales – It is Wednesday September 6th and by tomorrow, Thursday September 7th all of the islands of the Turks and Caicos will be experiencing super strong Category 5 Hurricane Irma and her 185mph winds. I have aimed to put together all of the things we all need to know at this point from government and the private sector and that includes that there is no school today, TCIG wants everyone to be hunkered down by this evening and so that means government offices will not open on Thursday; private sector operations will follow suit.
Two schools in Provo are to be used as shelters, Enid Capron in Five Cays and Oseta Jolly in Blue Hills and the Community Center College in Grand Turk is the storm shelter site. An evacuation is in effect for both Salt Cay and Middle Caicos. We are told many have left tiny Salt Cay, which was yesterday visited by the Premier, Home Affairs Minister and Health Minister. Today, there is bus and boat transportation provided by Government for Middle Caicos residents who need to leave that island. All airports will close at 6pm today informed the TCIAA. This means domestic and international flights will cease, including Bahamasair which will run its usual Thursday flight into Nassau today. Please be at the airport early if you are scheduled for the service.
When it comes to airlines flying into the United States, today is also the final day and the US State Department late yesterday issued a notice to all American Citizens to leave the TCI and The Bahamas and if you cannot or do not want to, to find a safe and secure place to ride out the storm. Americans are advised to inform their family and friends about where they are and cautioned to protect their travel and identification documents. The Ministry of Tourism and TCI Tourist Board agree that guests should leave today, but if not, to remain indoors during the storm and to follow the advice of officials and their hotel staff.
Cruise ships were in port yesterday in Grand Turk, according to information from Tourism, but stops from today have been redirected. The North to Middle Caicos ferry also suspends operations today by 5:30pm. When it comes to banks, they will operate regular hours today as determined by the Bankers Association, but tomorrow and Friday all banks will be closed. Grocery stores will also function as usual today. Some tell Magnetic Media they will remain open for as long as weather permits on Thursday but Graceway Supermarkets which means IGA, Gourmet and Smart will close at 11am on Thursday to allow its staff to go home and make final preparations or lock in to ride out the hurricane.
The Premier reminded on Monday that RTC is the main voice of Government during the storm, but other stations and media houses intend to continue serving the public throughout the storm with information coming from the National Hurricane Center, the Bahamas Department of Meteorology and the TCIs DDME. The power company, FortisTCI closed its offices since yesterday and asks the public to stay away from downed power lines and to report problems to 946-4313. You can also visit FortisTCI Facebook page for updates.
The water company, Provo Water, closes its office in Grace Bay today and also gives an emergency number as 231-0705 if you see any bursts. The Governor confirmed to Magnetic Media that the RFA Mounts Bay is in the Caribbean. The Royal Navy vessel which is deployed to support regional countries, including UK Overseas territories in events like hurricanes is said to be “ready to provide practical and humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The public is advised to ensure you know which hurricane shelter is nearest you. There are nine shelters opened nationwide . You can view them at our site or at DDMEs Facebook page.
You can also find the flood prone areas list if you want to become acquainted. The advancements in technology have made just about everyone a reporter, but moving about the island is strongly discouraged; and this includes after the storm as well. Sight-seeing is not wise and very dangerous. The spread of Fake News or unverified reports is also discouraged by officials, who will today address media in a final debriefing before Hurricane Irma strikes.
By Deandrea Hamilton