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.
The 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.
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)
Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister
By KATHRYN CAMPBELL
Bahamas Information Services
#ELEUTHERA, The Bahamas, September 27, 2022 – A new bridge design that incorporates opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs was presented at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday, September 22, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Lodge Hall, Hatchet Bay.
During the livestreamed event the Minister of Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears; the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; island administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Works, Town Planning Board, the Bridge Authority, Local Government, Lambert Knowles and other consultants, and residents of Eleuthera discussed plans for the proposed replacement of the Glass Window Bridge (GWB) in North Eleuthera.
Minister Sears termed the meeting very “successful” consultation and attendance by local stakeholders and virtual participants.
He said Mr. Knowles has assembled a world-class team of bridge designers who have put together a design that will turn the GWB “into a symbol of resilience, sustainability and also a place of entertainment and relaxation where Bahamian businesses can come and share in the wonderful goods of Eleuthera to the international travelling public as well as the residents in Eleuthera.
“We’re speaking now with Caribbean Development Bank with respect to funding; the design is now completed, there is also interest in PPP’s. Within the next two months we should have a funding pathway and then of course we will move on the procurement. Once the funding is in place we will announce a date.”
“It is not only a look out point, we are approaching this project as an enterprise where the people who live in Eleuthera would have the same opportunities that the people in South would have as the Disney Project would have, but it would be more significant than Disney because this project would be owned by Bahamian people — entrepreneurs, performers and culinary artists.
“Eleuthera is one of the places in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where development is taking place very rapidly. It is one of the most unique communities in our country; it is the fifth largest economy within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We have some of the wealthiest industrialists with homes in Eleuthera; we also have booming Bahamian business resorts throughout Eleuthera.”
The GWD represents a place where we “can build opportunities for Bahamian businesses, Bahamian entrepreneurs to showcase the imagination of the Bahamian crafts persons, also to showcase the culinary skills as well as the extraordinary culinary dishes of Bahamian cuisine,” he said.
Although “spectacular” Minister Sears said the current one-lane bridge is “dangerous” and unable to facilitate the transport of freight from the north to the south of the island because its carrying capacity is only 12 tonnes — anything over 12 tonnes cannot be transported over the bridge.
He noted other challenges and informed that the bridge is not fulfilling the potential that it has for the development of Eleuthera.
Using a Power Point presentation, Mr. Knowles introduced the design team, technical aspects of the built design and various options considered for the new bridge.
He said the proposed bridge will be unique; a picture opportunity and a venue to host an event. It will have a park, security, rest rooms, parking, a location for food trucks to sell crafts and food; and topography with different elevation.
During the question and answer segment, Minister Sears said a decision has not yet been made regarding a bridge toll on the major undertaking.
“It is a project which multilateral bodies and private sector investors have expressed an interest in participating in the funding. It is a project that once we have the community by-in the government is committed to building a world class production at this location.” Construction is expected to take place on the proposed bridge from 2023-2026 at an estimated cost of $50-$60 million.
The GWB was built in 1990 and provides the only vehicular link between North and South Eleuthera.
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
Storm Troubles as September heats up late
By Sherrica Thompson
September 27, 2022 – Hurricane Ian moved near the Cayman Islands and was forecast to intensify rapidly and hit Cuba as a major hurricane late on Monday and then strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico before striking the west central coast of Florida on Wednesday.
Now millions in Tampa Bay, Florida are bracing for impact after a hundred year absence of any major storm.
So far, authorities in Cuba have suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and planned evacuations on Monday as Ian gained strength and approach Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. Cuba was also shutting down its train system ahead of the worst weather.
Senior Specialist at the United States National Hurricane Center Daniel Brown told The Associated Press early Monday that “Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane force winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall.”
In the Cayman Islands, members of the government and opposition were working together to ensure that people were made as safe as possible and provided with supplies, plywood, and in some cases sandbags so that they could safely weather the storm, according to Premier Wayne Panton in a video on Sunday.
As of Monday, September 26, most of the customers on the island of Bermuda have received power with just about 200 properties still without electricity.
Last week Hurricane Fiona brought heavy rain and strong winds to the island causing about 29,000 customers, more than 80 per cent of the island’s sole power provider, Bermuda Electric Light Company to be without electricity on Friday morning.
The island has also started its restoration process and announced that it has reopened for business.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, more than a million people in the two countries are still without power and running water after the passing of Hurricane Fiona over the Islands last week.
A growing number of businesses in Puerto Rico, including grocery stores and gas stations, are temporarily closing across the territory as the outages drag on, sparking concern about the availability of fuel and basic goods.
As of Saturday, at least 16 people had died because of Hurricane Fiona, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, which is tracking hurricane-related deaths on the island.
TCHTA Expresses Sympathy to Bereaved Families and Grave Concern Over Recent Gun Crimes
#TurksandCaicos, September 27, 2022 – Communities in the country have come under siege in the wake of a recent explosion of gun violence resulting in several tragic deaths. The TCHTA bemoans these events, sending sympathy and encouragement to the families of the young men whose lives have been cut short by these brazen and deplorable attacks.
“We grieve the loss of these young lives and the devastation caused to the families involved,” lamented Stay Cox, CEO of the organization. “We’ve seen this before, and each time our communities and nation are pushed into a position of fear and panic as criminals eat away at the feeling of safety in our homes and neighbourhoods,” said Cox.
Earlier this year, the Association appealed for swift action to be taken against the uptick in brazen criminal activity and pledged its continued support and eagerness to partner with the RTCIPF in the fight against crime in Turks and Caicos.
The Association notes the swift action taken by the RTCIPF, the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Premier, and the NSC to stem the ongoing melee. The TCHTA joins the country in thanking the Cayman Islands for deploying one of its two police helicopters from the RCIPS Air Operations Unit to provide aerial assistance. Still, the killings continue driven by what the RTCIPF has said is perpetrated by groups involved in “gangs and serious organized crime.”.
CEO Cox said, “The recent update from the NSC sharing plans for a targeted RTCIPF Gun, Gangs, and Drugs Unit is promising and something we hope the Police will move toward aggressively. This problem is immediate and time-critical as criminals wreak havoc in these large communities, home to law-abiding citizens who cannot live as freely as they should.”
To date, the country’s murder count is staggering and utterly disproportionate to the size of the population. The Association says heinous occurrences like these are the nucleus of a cycle where communities are affected, day-to-day life is compromised, the country’s reputation is eventually damaged, and citizens are affected once again by economic loss when the country’s lifeline takes a hit.
President of the TCHTA, Trevor Musgrove, is reinforcing the organization’s commitment to assist where possible, appealing to all to get involved in the fight against crime. “Residents cannot be forced to accept this level of senseless violence in our country. We cannot stand for it, and we cannot turn a blind eye to it. We must take power away from these vagrants and do what it takes to save our young men.” said Musgrove.
The TCHTA President shared the Association’s thanks and support to the officers of the RTCIPF. “We know it is no small task, and we continue to send our appreciation to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force officers for their commitment and bravery. We know you are under attack, and we pray for your safety as you stand on the front line to protect the residents of this country.”
The TCHTA commends the members of the community who have provided information and assistance to the authorities as they work to infiltrate the groups at the core of this recent killing spree. The Association joins the RTCIPF in its appeal to the public for those in possession of unlicensed firearms to surrender them during the Gun Amnesty which begins on September 15th.
Musgrove said, “The fact is that we are losing a generation to gangs and guns, and a holistic approach is imperative. Our citizens and residents are being terrorized by those who have no value for human life and no respect for law and order. Our hearts go out to all those who are suffering from the fallout of these tragedies, and the TCHTA remains committed to our continued partnership with the authorities.”
The TCHTA sends its prayers to the families of the murder victims and hopes that justice will be served in these matters.
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