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NEMA intensifies relief, recovery

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NASSAU, The Bahamas, October 16, 2016 –  In the wake of the powerful Hurricane Matthew, the National Emergency Management Agency is strengthening its organizational structure and systems so as to effectively bring about assistance to Bahamians impacted by the storm.  This is being done through a three-tier system, which is  being organized to include ground assessors, zone or district coordinators, technical and social services teams.

Social services teams have already assisted many of the families impacted in the hard hit areas of New Providence, North Andros and West End, Grand Bahama.  The teams, are being strengthened so as to expedite and conclude assessments as soon as possible, as the relief and recovery phases are being carried out.

Hurricane Matthew passed through New Providence on October 5 as a Category 3 storm leaving thousands of downed power lines, major disruption to communications, electricity services and other utilities, and massive flooding and storm surge along the eastern and southwestern shorelines.

Hurricane Matthew passed through North Andros as a Category 4 storm; where 80 percent of homes in Lowe Sound, Andros were destroyed. The neighboring communities of Nicholls Town, Morgan’s Bluff, Red Bay’s and Mastic Point also experienced damages due to strong winds and extensive flooding. And in West end, also as a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Matthew left 95 percent of the buildings in Eight Mile Rock and Holmes Rock significantly damaged.  However that community of North Andros is being assisted with food and water from the Royal  Bahamas Defence Force container city where meals are provided daily for those residents.

The Government, through NEMA, has intensified its relief and recovery phases, in the first instance ensuring that immediate supplies such as water and food reach those in need shipped by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force vessels.  Also in the interim, each constituency is being given two big rolls of tarpaulin to be distributed by designated teams comprising Social Services, Defence Force and Housing to ensure residents whose homes suffered roof damage were protected from further  leaking.

nema-ice-img_6266The Ministry of Tourism through its cruise ship partners Carnival and Norwegian Sky have, with the assistance of NEMA, distributed thousands of pounds of ice and water to residents in need of these essential supplies.  Some financial assistance is coming in from the local and international communities namely Commonwealth Bank, the Chinese Embassy, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and others.

The utility  companies such as BPL, BTC, Cable Bahamas and Water & Sewerage are reporting restoration efforts in an effort to return to some sense of normalcy, the lives of affected residents.  More specifically, Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL) is making good progress and has 14 crews dispatched in the field , including 2 teams from the Caribbean Electricity Utility Services  Corporation (CARILEC), two PowerSecure teams and two private contractor teams.

Areas of particular interests are Pinewood Gardens, given the flooding experienced there, Elizabeth Estates and Yellow Elder Gardens.  There are also teams in Sea Breeze, and on Marshall  Road, which is one of the hardest hit areas in southern New Providence.  BPL reported restoring power to more than 80 percent of residential customers on New Providence and is aiming to be closer to full restoration by the end of the week.

Significant progress has been made toward the clean up efforts on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Andros. Teams from each community were formed to remove debris from public parks, roads and other thoroughfares. The effort in New Providence is about 60 percent completed. The mammoth task of cleaning in Grand Bahama, West End in particular, is progressing well.

Utility poles and downed power and telephone lines are being removed and secured daily. As electricity is being restored in various communities, work teams will work through the evening in an effort to expedite the clearing up process.  The public is reminded to store damaged appliances and furniture in safe places outside their walls and fences for easy collection by the pick-up crew.

Where possible, the public is encouraged to transport garbage, furniture and other bulk waste to the New Providence Landfill at no cost.  Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has signed and an Exigency Order, enabling impacted residents of New Providence Grand Bahama, The Berry Islands and North and Central Andros to bring in specified goods, duty free.

The Government is mindful of the impact of Hurricane Matthew on the business community. In this vein, the Government is giving consideration to the incentive and assistance packages to help businesses re-open in the shortest possible time.  Meetings have been held with business leaders in an effort to bring relief to businesses. Assistance to the business community can take several years, however the Government is determined to develop the most effective model to jump start businesses.

Acknowledging the importance of small businesses to the growth of the economy, a comprehensive assessment of fishermen and farmers will commence this week with a view of  determining the extent of losses in this category of the local economy. Following the assessments, a determination will be made as to the level of assistance and support to be given to those impacted.

The Government of The Bahamas will work with the Clearing Banks  in an effort to devise a formula for persons whose homes were destroyed and large mortgage payments exist.  Encouraged by one banking institution which has pledged  to review its ease of loan payments programme, the Government will continue to explore all options to soften the hardship persons endure with mortgage loans, where homes were either destroyed  or severely damaged.

 

Relief supplies being shipped to North Andros, as part of ongoing relief and recovery programme following the passage of Hurricane Matthew, which impacted the country, about a week ago.

(PHOTO/NEMA)

ICE being distributed from NEMA on Gladstone Road to residents impacted by Hurricane Matthew.   Meanwhile, electricity is being restored by BPL to consumers.

 

(BIS PHOTO/Patrick Hanna)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation Celebrates World Tourism Day

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#TheBahamas, September 28, 2021 – “This year, World Tourism Day has been designated as a day to focus on inclusive growth through tourism, which is quite poignant,” said Deputy Prime Minister The Honourable I. Chester Cooper, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation. “Like many Caribbean destinations, tourism is the heartbeat of The Bahamas and as we say, it is everyone’s business. Our beaches are breathtaking, and the water is so clear you can see it from space, but that is not what defines us. Rather, it is every individual person who shapes the Bahamas experience and stands to benefit from tourism’s success. I am committed to creating jobs and opportunities for all Bahamians and to help our great nation heal.”

As international travel restrictions begin to ease, spurred by an increase in vaccine accessibility, The Bahamas is well positioned for continued recovery. A rise in scheduled airlift combined with the return of the cruise industry is contributing to a positive increase in visitor numbers, leading to nearly 500,000 visitors over the first six months of the year.

“While we have faced an uphill battle during these unprecedented times, we must stay focused and optimistic as the world begins to reopen,” noted the Deputy Prime Minister. “I join with leaders throughout the Caribbean to elevate the importance of social inclusion, sustainability and smart destinations and businesses. Our beautiful country, and our beloved Caribbean region, will prosper again and continue to progress, as in the words of the motto of The Bahamas:  Forward, Upward, Onward, Together.”

 

Photo Credit: Sandals.com

 

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Lyford Cay Foundations Award Academic Scholarships to 18 Bahamians

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#TheBahamas, September 27, 2021 – Eighteen Bahamians who are committed to making a difference in The Bahamas in fields ranging from mitigating climate change to ending physical abuse have been awarded generous undergraduate and graduate school scholarships from the Lyford Cay Foundations.

Today’s announcement of the names of academic awardees follows earlier news that for the first time in its 50+ year history, the Foundations saw the majority of successful applicants for vocational scholarships chose training and certification in medical or health-related subjects – perhaps inspired by the great health care needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Both groups, academic and technical vocational, were outstanding this year, making the work of the independent screening committees more challenging than ever and many of the students who applied were so impressive that they were also being offered substantial scholarships from top universities, all of which speaks for the quality and reputation of students from The Bahamas,” said Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Executive Director. “What was of particular interest this year is the common thread in their essays, almost like a fire burning in them – a desire to make a difference in The Bahamas when they return.”

One of those recipients, Empress Sears, a graduate of Sunland Baptist Academy in Grand Bahama, is off to study Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto with a William Birchall Scholarship. “An issue we as Bahamians should all be concerned about is the lack of attention given to our natural resources,” Sears wrote in her essay. “Our beaches, mangroves, pine forests, and coral reefs are in a state of peril….Overproduction of air pollutants has caused the temperature to steadily climb worldwide. The results of this come in the form of sweltering heat and devastating hurricanes. These effects play a major role in why our natural resources are under extreme stress. It is our duty as Bahamians to seek out the best possible methods to reduce the severity of these natural disasters.”

Two other recipients, Jasmine Adamson and Paul Roberts, plan to tackle the energy problem, focusing on renewables, Roberts at University of California, Berkley, and Adamson at Kettering University.

Another, Rhodricia Francis, was inspired by her own family’s experience to become a pharmaceutical chemist. “I believe that Bahamians deserve access to better treatments and medications,” she wrote. “As a pharmaceutical chemist, I will develop novel, effective drugs with minimal side effects and investigate more efficient methods to synthesize current drugs. Efficiency in drug creation will make medication more accessible to the general population.”

Lyford Cay Foundation Chairman Basil Goulandris cited the variety of interests and ambition as “extraordinary.”

“Every year, we think how can next year’s applicants equal this year’s and every year, new applicants surprise us,” he said. “This year, the applicants showed interest in a wide variety of subjects that were very demanding and an extraordinary ambition to make The Bahamas even better.”

Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation Chairman Tim Unwin agreed.

“When you look at the fields of study and the quality of the scholarship recipients for 2021-22, you have to feel that the future of The Bahamas is in good hands,” Unwin declared. “Upon their return to The Bahamas, these wonderful students will find many opportunities to give effect to their vision.

 The Foundations awarded $380,000 in scholarships this year to 26 new recipients in addition to the 27 ongoing scholarships allowing Bahamians to study throughout the US, Canada and the UK. The Foundations have awarded more than $50 million in education benefits to Bahamians along with helping to support non-profits, with an emphasis on those that contribute to education.

Recipients of this year’s new undergraduate scholarships include Paul Roberts – Physics at the University of California, Berkeley; Jasmine Adamson – Mechanical Engineering, Kettering University; Zion Virgil – Chemistry, Florida Southern College; Rhodricia Francis – Chemistry, Florida International University; Jaleah Taylor – Visual Arts/Communications, Media and Film, University of Windsor; Kiara Minnis – Computer Science Degree with Cooperative Education, Lakehead University; Ashanti Marshall – English and Art, St. Francis Xaviers; Shealyn Burrows – Chemistry, St. Mary’s University; Tyler Christie – Biology, St. Mary’s University; Dacacia Russell – Accounting, Mount Royal University; Chandler Darville – Mechanical Engineering, University of Toronto; Alexander Baxter – Management, University of Toronto; Asya Johnson – Computer Science, University of New Brunswick; Empress Sears – Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto.

Those working toward graduate degrees include :  Leandria Albury – Public Health Administration and Policy, University of Minnesota; Felecia Campbell – Child and Youth Care, Holland College; Lemuel Johnson – Trumpet Performance, Western Illinois University; and Clarence Albury – Creative Writing, Witchita State University.

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Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board Celebrates World Tourism Day

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The Destination Continues to See an Influx of Tourists, Following One of the Busiest Summers on Record, and Is Optimistic for the Future

#TurksandCaicos, September 27, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board, the exclusive tourism authority for the Turks and Caicos Islands, is excited to celebrate World Tourism Day on today, September 27, 2021, and reflect on the Island’s significant increase in tourism since the pandemic. Thanks to the Tourist Board’s strategic marketing and public relations plans, combined with its vigilant TCI Assured protocols, aggressive vaccine campaign, and pent-up travel demand, the destination reported one of its busiest summers to date in 2021 with an increase of over 18% in June, 19% in July, and 15% in August compared to pre-pandemic statistics in 2019.

“On World Tourism Day and every day, we are proud to celebrate the success of tourism to the Turks and Caicos Islands, especially after the challenges that we and all tourism-driven countries faced during the pandemic,” said Pamela Ewing, Director of Tourism for the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board. “We have worked hard to enforce necessary safety protocols to ensure that tourism, our main economic driver, continues to positively impact both our local and travelling communities. The destination is optimistic for one of the busiest Festive seasons to date ahead, and we wish success to all other islands in the Caribbean.”

Tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands continues to flourish due to the Tourist Board’s strategic marketing and public relations campaigns in the United States, Canada, South America, United Kingdom and Europe to promote the destination as safe for travelers. This includes press trips with key publications, radio campaigns in source markets, advertising and partnerships with stakeholders, and executing the signature event, Turks and Caicos Conference (TACC), which updated all partners on protocols and accommodation availability.

“We are grateful for all of our valued tourism partners, who have supported our efforts to ensure the ongoing safety of our residents and guests, and to the community for their vigilance in getting vaccinated and adhering to protocols,” said Honorable Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism for the Turks and Caicos Islands. “It is because of everyone’s commitment that we’ve been able to keep tourism thriving safely and allow guests to focus on enjoying the exceptional vacation experience afforded by the destination, our picturesque beaches, and our world-class resorts and villas.”

Travel confidence has also increased thanks to the destination’s TCI Assured portal, a quality assurance pre-travel program and portal, which requires require a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR, NAA, RNA or Antigen test result from a test taken within three days of travel, medical / travel insurance that covers medevac, a completed health screening questionnaire, and proof of vaccination for all visitors ages 16 years and over. The vaccine requirement underscores the destination’s commitment to health and safety and expands on its already vigilant travel protocols, which have been in place for travelers since July 22, 2020, when the destination opened its borders to tourists. The Turks and Caicos Islands also continues to promote its vaccine campaign among residents, with over 70 percent of the adult population being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine—making it one of the most inoculated countries in the world.

For more information on the Turks and Caicos Islands, call 1 (800) 241-0824 or visit www.turksandcaicostourism.com. Follow the Turks and Caicos Islands on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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