#Nassau, September 3, 2019 – Bahamas – The Royal Bahamas Police Force has confirmed that five people died during the passage of the category 5 Hurricane Dorian through North Abaco.
This was revealed by the Most Hon Dr Hubert A Minnis in a statement during a live NEMA press conference on Tuesday, September 2, 2019.
See Speech below:
We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas. Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for first responders.
As the Met Department has just reported, Hurricane Dorian is still battering Grand Bahama Island and will be there for many more hours.
We know that there are a number of people in Grand Bahama who are in serious distress. We will provide relief and assistance as soon as possible after the Met Department has given the all clear.
I strongly urge the residents of Grand Bahama to remain indoors and to be as safe as possible until the all clear is given by the appropriate authorities. Bahamians across our country and throughout the world are praying for you.
There are questions about fatalities. Thus far, the Royal Bahamas Police Force has confirmed that there are five deaths on Abaco. Teams will go to Abaco as soon as possible for full and proper assessment and identification.
We are going to be very careful in reporting such information, which should only come from official channels and be verified by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. We need to be sensitive in reporting such information and will do so as soon as we have reliable information.
The initial report from Abaco is that the devastation is unprecedented and extensive. They are deeply worrying. The images and videos we are seeing are heartbreaking. Many homes, businesses and other buildings have been destroyed. There is an extraordinary amount of flooding and damage to infrastructure.
I wish to report that the U.S. Coast Guard is already on the ground in Abaco and has rescued a number of injured individuals. Critically injured individuals are being taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital on New Providence.
Through various channels we are continuing to monitor events in Abaco and Grand Bahama, as well as Bimini and the Berry Islands, which are continuing to receive tropical storm winds.
While New Providence, Andros and Eleuthera have been given the all clear, I strongly urge residents of these islands, to be careful and diligent as they move about. I note that there is flooding in a number of areas on these islands.
Various shelters are open in New Providence for those whose homes may have been flooded. Further, there appear to be a number of fake and incorrect reports circulating.
Please do not resend or transmit reports or images, which appear to be untrue. Many people in affected areas as well as their loved ones in the Bahamas and overseas are understandably worried. Please do not add to their anxiety and worries. This is not the time to be creating mischief and playing on the emotions of others, especially those who are vulnerable at this time.
Rapid Assessment Teams are on standby to conduct initial assessments and reconnaissance of affected areas as quickly as possible. There are teams from the Ministries of Health, National Security, Social Services and Works.
There are teams from NEMA and the Bahamas Red Cross. There are also international and regional governmental and NGO teams ready to help to assess the human needs and damage.
We have in place, and are putting in place other critical measures to respond as rapidly as possible to reduce any suffering and pain. We are putting together a Hurricane Relief and Recovery Committee. We will announce the coordinator as soon as possible.
Exigency Orders have been prepared to allow donated and purchased relief supplies from registered charitable organizations to enter the affected areas free of customs duty and VAT in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.
Landing fees will also be waived in the affected areas, as well as departure taxes and customs processing fees for non-commercial flights. The Orders cover Abaco, the Abaco Cays, Grand Bahama, Sweeting’s Cay, Deep Water Cay and Water Cay.
In addition to goods traditionally exempted after past hurricanes, we are including in these orders: medicine and medical supplies, electrical generators, tents, cots, bedding material and mosquito nettings.
Individuals affected by Hurricane Dorian are included in the Exigency Orders subject to verification by NEMA.
Fellow Bahamians and Residents:
As Bahamians we must unite with the singular focus of helping our brothers and sisters in need. We will provide information as to where and how individuals, families and corporate citizens can donate resources and funds to assist those in need.
Due to the extent of the devastation, when weather permits and transportation resumes, I ask Bahamians and residents on islands not devastated by the storm to open their homes to friends and family who are in need.
Your compassion at this most difficult hour will bring healing and hope to those who are traumatized by this destructive storm.
Bahamians have a charitable spirit. There are many who are ready to give generously. Please ensure that you donate funds and items to reputable charitable organizations with records of service to the community.
We want to be careful to avoid past mistakes where non-reputable organizations and individuals attempting to take advantage of the suffering and distress of others.
I have heard from a number of world leaders, including a number of heads of government from the Caribbean Community, CARICOM. We are also in touch with a number of other foreign governments and international agencies.
Fellow Bahamians and Residents:
I pledge to you that your government will bring to bear every resource possible and all of our collective energy to assist those in the devastated areas.
There are many difficult days, weeks and months ahead of us as a people and as a country. We must stay united as a people to bring immediate assistance, to bring hope, to bring recovery and to rebuild lives.
We read in Psalm 130:
“Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord, Lord hear my voice.
“O let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading.”
In the midst of the devastation and the loss of life; in the midst of this terrible tragedy; we must rely on the Lord of Life, who is our great hope and our comfort in times of need.
I end with the words of Joshua 1:9:
“Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Let this be our shared prayer and let us be people of empathy, of compassion, of gratitude, and people of love.
Thank you and good afternoon.
For more information contact: Lindsay Thompson, Public Information Officer
Contacts: 242-322-6081/5 or 242-361-5569 or 242-376-2042