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BPL first assessment done, Abaco restoration bill to top $20 million and rebound may take months

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#TheBahamas, September 6, 2019 In a season where Bahamas Power and Light, BPL – the country’s electricity provider – is challenged to prove its consistent reliability, comes a new hurdle in the Abacos created by the region’s most horrific hurricane.

Little damage is reported in the south of the island, but central and north Abaco were decimated and the utility infrastructure was smashed in the fury of Sunday and Monday’s Hurricane Dorian.    

“I’m very optimistic. I think, coming in from Sandy Point north to Wilson City, clearly we do see poles down but the majority of the infrastructure is intact. So it’s really good news for those in the south. We can get those poles – less than 100 of them – we can get those replanted, get the conductors back up and bring in some smaller generation assets and repower the south fairly quickly,” said BPL CEO, Whitney Heastie who led a 19-member delegation.

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However, for areas like Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Murphy Town, the prognosis is dire.

“The recovery can start pretty soon if we start with the south, because they had minimal damage coming from the south. Central and North? We’re talking about months. Of course, there are provisions for outside help, but it’s going to be…I mean, some areas can take – in my estimation – some areas can take up to three, four months, or perhaps longer,” said Marvin Green, Assistant Manager of Distribution, BPL Abaco.

From the BPL statement issued on Thursday:  After early assessments, Dr. Moxey said the initial budget estimate for recovery is somewhere between $25M to $30M. “We have infrastructure, we have resources we have to bring to bear and that’s the bill,” he said, adding that he had indicated to Minister of Works the Hon. Desmond Bannister that the assessment trips would result in an initial budget.”

BPL Chairman, Dr. Donovan Moxey and BPL CEO, Whitney Heastie led the delegation of 19 people on Wednesday (September 4) which had as its two main missions; assess the damages and locate BPL staff.

Chairman Moxey is optimistic about work in the south.

“The power plant has fared fairly well. There are one or two things that we do have to do in terms of cosmetic (corrections) but in terms of the engines, they’re all fine. They’re ready to go. The concern would be more around the load, because the engines’ minimum is more than the demand is right now,” he said.

Mr. Green said the damage caused by Hurricane Dorian, which is believed to have spawned tornadoes in addition to rushing, raging surge waters is far worse than hurricanes of the past, like 1999’s Hurricane Floyd.

“I never thought I would see something that made Hurricane Floyd look like child’s play. The winds – it was horrific. The weight and the force and the power of it. “Basically, right now, it’s hard to identify the landscape in some areas…because the structures that used to be there are no longer there. “Eighty to ninety percent of our infrastructure from Central Marsh Harbour going north is compromised. It’s going to be a long recovery.”

Many are saying Abaco in inhabitable, still Mr. Green reminded of the Caribbean region support which will take its cues from BPL when it comes to support.

Great Abaco Island

The BPL statement:  BPL has partnerships with suppliers, energy partners and even government agencies in the US, CARICOM and others – plus a network of former employees with skill sets we can use – and with the right complement of equipment and personnel, we believe we can bring South and even some parts of Central Abaco back to power within a month.

“So, it’s really good news for those in the south. We can get those poles – less than 100 of them – we can get those replanted, get the conductors back up and bring in some smaller generation assets and repower the south fairly quickly.”

A team from BPL returned to Abaco on Thursday to complete the assessment work.  The electricity company explained it counts this hurricane restoration in Abaco as urgent despite the current objectives to boost capacity in New Providence.  

“When you look at The Bahamas economy, Abaco is number three in terms of what it generates for the economy, so getting Abaco back up and running, there’s no question the government is committed to doing that as quickly as possible. “The good thing is, too, we have a lot of international support, and so we’re going to leverage all of that, everything we can,” Dr. Moxey said.

The initial BPL assessment team did not visit the island empty handed; food and water, health and medical supplies were delivered to BPL team members and their families.

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Bahamas News

Scores of Students Equipped with Supplies to Return to School

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NASSAU, BAHAMAS, AUGUST 13, 2022 – As the new school year approaches, Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Sandals Royal Bahamian have embarked on a back-to-school drive, donating school supplies to local schools and communities in Nassau as part of their commitment to education and community development.

Recently, a team of over 15 volunteers from the resort traveled to Gambier Primary School, where students and teachers were gathered for summer school, and distributed over 40 packages with school supplies that included notebooks, pencils, crayons, pencil cases, erasers, sharpeners, reading books, rulers and glue sticks and warm meals.

Public Relations Manager at Sandals Royal Bahamian, Renee Deleon, shared the impact that these donations will have on families and schools across the island.

“Education is pivotal to the growth of a nation and it is something that we are committed to at Sandals. We know that back to school expenses here like anywhere else in the world can be quite strenuous so we want to play our part in helping to ease the financial burden that this may present to families as schools look to reopen.”

Deleon further added, “Thanks to the support of our guests who packed for a purpose, we were able to collect these items that will allow students to be equipped with the essential tools they need to make a better transition to the classroom when they return to school.”

The gesture was met with song, dance and echoes of ‘thank you’ as the Sandals team made the presentations to the children. Principal Forbes explained how this donation will help to improve the teaching and learning process.

“I am tremendously grateful to the Sandals Foundation and their team members from Sandals Royal Bahamian for gifting my students with school supplies. This donation will go a long way toward allowing teachers to execute lessons and students to participate.”

Forbes also noted that the school has had a longstanding relationship with the Foundation.

“Over the years we’ve had a good relationship with the Sandals Foundation and I am happy that we still have them in our corner.”

In addition to this donation to Gambier Primary School, the Sandals Royal Bahamian team has distributed school supplies to the Community Touch Group. Donations were also made to children at the Nazareth Centre as well as some children from the Okra Hill community. Later this month the Sandals Foundation ambassadors will be giving back to children from the Nassau Village and Grove communities.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: These Sandals Foundation Ambassadors from Sandals Royal Bahamian were captured with bag packs filled with school supplies moments before they donated the supplies to the Nazareth Centre.

 1st insert: It is always a joyous occasion when Sandals Foundation Ambassadors go out to give back.

 2nd insert: Volunteers from Sandals Royal Bahamian were a picture of joy when they stopped by Gambier Primary School to donate school supplies and issue lunches recently.

 Release: Sandals Resort

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GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President

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Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar

 

#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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Beneath the Waves’ summer camp inspires young Bahamians to become stewards of the environment

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#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – While the waters near Great Exuma are renowned for their unmatched beauty, last weekend, more than 40 students spent a day with Beneath the Waves learning the deeper value of the marine ecosystems that surround their islands and act as a bedrock for the Bahamian economy and way of life.

As participants in the non-profit’s summer camp, the young students learned about mangrove and coral reef habitats and the many species that live among them.

They heard about some of Beneath the Waves’ research, including studies of sharks, seagrass and blue carbon, and research methods like underwater video surveys.

Coral Vita Conservancy, which has been working relentlessly to restore coral reefs off Grand Bahama, sent team member Joe Oliver , Director of Restoration Operations, to assist with the camp and provide in-depth information on corals in The Bahamas.

Team ECCO, a North Carolina-based ocean education organization, also provided in-depth lessons on invertebrates and fish.

Long after the taste of ice cream at the end-of-day party has faded, campers will remember learning how to tag a lifelike shark. And they’ll wear their camp t-shirts with pride, remembering this is the day they learned to value the water all around them and what lies beneath the waves.

Eleven-year-old twin sisters Kassidy and Kaylee Burrows described the camp as a highlight of their summer vacation.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kassidy. “And we learned all about sponges, the water, mangroves, coral reefs — how they protect animals and how they protect the shore — and also about animals themselves, aquatic animals, for example, sea anemones, corals, sponges and sharks.”

Kassidy was especially enthused to share her experience with helping to plant new mangroves.

“We found out how mangrove seeds can actually disperse into the water,” she said.

“And I thought they were going to be small seeds, but, in my opinion, they looked like asparagus kind of.

“We also got to go in the water and plant new mangroves.”

Beneath the Waves’ scientists have been studying The Bahamas’ waters for more than a decade, having helped with the creation and management of conservation policies, including the legislation that made the country’s waters a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The non-governmental organization knows that in continuing efforts to protect The Bahamas’ greatest asset, its natural environment, community buy-in is vital.

And in that context, the value of helping young Bahamians gain these kinds of hands-on experiences and lessons, ones they’ll undoubtedly carry with them through life, can’t be overstated.

Kaylee Burrows is already brainstorming the ways she can apply what she learned in her future career.

While the mangroves piqued her sister’s interest, Kaylee said she was fascinated by coral reefs and the important role they play on a global scale, though she noted they don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated.

“I learned that The Bahamas has some of the biggest coral reefs in the world,” she said. “We actually put pieces of coral on a pipe to help build a platform for the coral. The reason I chose coral reefs over all of the topics is because we the people of the Bahamas, don’t even recognize how important our islands are. These coral reefs are very beneficial to the whole world.”

Kaylee said she hopes to one day become a veterinarian and an author.

“As a vet, I can help not just land animals, but marine animals too,” she said. “As an author, I can write books on marine biology. I think this experience helped with my future career, and I’m forever grateful.”

Beneath the Waves Managing Director Jamie Fitzgerald said plans are underway to make the camp an annual event.

“We look forward to being able to work more closely with local schools in the islands we frequent, such as Exuma and Nassau, to develop educational materials around sharks and marine science, and to foster opportunities for internships and future careers for any aspiring Bahamian marine biologists,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Hands-on experience – Exuma students planting mangroves with the help of research scientists from Beneath the Waves  — just one of the many memorable moments from the non-profit’s summer camp that was held on July 23. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

1st insert: Learning about coral — With the help of experts from Coral Vita, a Grand Bahama-based organization working to restore reefs near the island, students built plaforms for coral. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

2nd insert: More to come  – Camp leaders and participants posed with the inflatable shark, as the first of what is hoped to be many Beneath the Waves summer camps came to an end. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

 

Release: Beneath the Waves

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