By: Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services
#TheBahamas, May 2, 2022 – The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is leading by example when it comes to preparation in advance of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season which is expected to be an above-average season with 19 named storms, 9 expected to become hurricanes and 4 forecasted to become major hurricanes.
Those preparations include the completion of a Comprehensive Disaster Management Audit that was conducted by CDEMA (the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency). The aim of the audit was to review the country’s level of preparedness in the areas of mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and financial arrangements for disasters. CDEMA has also provided support to NEMA with its warehouse inventory management and logistics programme that will enable the Agency, “to more effectively deal with the tons of solicited and unsolicited relief items.”
The Agency has also agreed in principle with food distributors to make food available on short notice; water distributors to make water available on short notice; shipping companies to provide services as necessary, and airline companies to make their services available as necessary — all to support the national emergency response mechanism.
NEMA, the Department of Meteorology and The Bahamas National Geographical Information Systems (BNGIS) have been working along with various US and UK partners on a Weather Ready Nation (WRN) Programme that will better enable the noted agencies to provide impact-based forecasting, and storm surge modeling – a feature Disaster Managers are hailing as “a huge capability.”
Captain Stephen Russell, NEMA’s Director, said over the past two months, Family Island Districts – “led by administrators and assisted by Council Members, Heads of Government departments and knowledgeable locals” — have been meeting to review their local Comprehensive Disaster Management Plans.
“It is our aim to finalize this activity this week so that the Plan can be approved for implementation very soon,” Captain Russell added.
Furthermore, the Agency continued its efforts to strengthen partnerships with the Urban Renewal Commission, the National Neighbourhood Crime Watch Council, and The Bahamas National Council for Disability. Through these partnerships — NEMA continues to implement its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, a programme that educates community volunteers about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and train them in basic disaster response skills.
Over the past three months, the Agency has been working with partners from the United States Northern Command and the Pacific Disaster Center in planning and executing our annual table top exercises titles: “Restoration Island Cays.” Over the past week an exercise was conducted with Family Island Disaster Consultative Committees to test their various systems. A national simulation exercise is scheduled for the month of June.
The Agency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, met in a series of meetings with officials from the United States’ and the United Kingdom’s Governments respectively to finalize Status of Force Agreements in the event there is the need for external military assistance as a result of a disaster.
NEMA’s Disaster Management Committee and Emergency Support Function groups have also commenced their series of planning meetings to ensure that all groups are able to perform their functions in an efficient and cost-effective manner prior to, during, and in the aftermath of an emergency or disaster.
Addressing a Press Conference held at the National Emergency Management Agency’s Headquarters, Gladstone Road, to launch National Disaster Preparedness Month (May will be observed as National Disaster Preparedness Month under the theme: “Strengthening Community Readiness for a Better Tomorrow”) Captain Russell said NEMA, the Ministry of Finance, and the Department of Meteorology, over the past week, have held meetings with officials from the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facilities (CCRIF) to review the current insurance policy, and to examine the best possible options before renewing the policies.
“The Shelter Emergency Support Function group,” Captain Russell continued, “has been spearheading the task of having all shelters throughout The Bahamas inspected to determine which facilities will be available for this season. Over the past year, as many of you may be aware, through our U.S. military partners, NEMA was able to acquire a mobile shelter system which can accommodate some 400 persons. The system also comprises showers and toilets and a field kitchen.”
The NEMA Director said the Agency’s preparations commenced even prior to 2022.
“Over the past year, additional Flood Water Rescue equipment have been transported to 11 islands where teams have been trained in the past. Over the past year, VHF radios and Repeaters Systems have been installed in 16 communities to support local community emergency communications.
“NEMA and our partners have reviewed the Coroner’s Report following the investigation after Hurricane Dorian, and plans are being developed to more efficiently and effectively care for the deceased, God forbid, in the aftermath of a disaster,” Captain Russell said.
Photo Caption: NEMA Director, Captain Stephen Russell, detailing the Agency’s preparations in advance of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season that begins June 1 and ends November 30.
(BIS Photo/Mark Ford)
GBPA invests $1.1 million in major road infrastructure improvements for city of Freeport
#TheBahamas, May 20, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) will commence its $1.1 million road resurfacing project in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday, May 22, 2022 beginning with the Fishing Hole Road, and West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout.
“Our City Maintenance and Management section is excited to begin this important initiative to resurface roadways within Freeport,” said Troy McIntosh, GBPA Deputy Director of Building and Development Services. “Our city has been through many challenging storm events which did catastrophic damage to infrastructure around the island, including our roads.
“But our community is resilient, and we are seeing a positive shift in the economic tide,” continued McIntosh. “Excitement for future opportunities and anticipation of new investments is palpable through the city, so we knew this was the ideal time to start this aspect of Freeport’s much-needed makeover to which GBPA is fully committed.”
Roadworks are scheduled for main thoroughfares and a number of residential roads. These areas include the Fishing Hole Road, West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout, West Atlantic Drive at Rayvin Mall roundabout, Beach Way Drive, Bahama Reef Boulevard, Pioneers Way, Waterfall Drive, Tarrytown Street and Grand Bahama Highway. “We selected these locations using our Road Rating System, which allows inspectors to assess the condition and rideability of our roads on an annual basis,” added Mr. McIntosh.
The GBPA roadworks project went out to bid in December 2020. In March 2022, the bid was awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), who specializes in heavy civil engineering projects including major highways.
“We ask motorists to drive with due care and attention while roadwork is underway,” Mr. McIntosh advised. Flagmen and temporary traffic lights will be in position to direct traffic. Please obey the speed limit and posted signs to help ensure the safety of all motorists and crews as they conduct work. Delays are expected as there will be partial lane closures in some areas.”
The initial phase of road resurfacing is scheduled to be completed at the end of June 2022. For the latest updates and information on redirected travel routes, residents can follow any of the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s social media sites or visit its website at www.gbpa.com.
Freaky Weather includes Waterspouts, Severe Flooding and fish in Backyards
By Dana Malcolm & Deandrea Hamilton
#TheBahamas, May 19, 2022 – A waterspout whirling its way onto shore in the west, images of submerged cars, impassable roads and even fish darting around in a flooded backyard were the testimony of Nassau’s extreme weather weekend.
The Bahamas Department of meteorology had predicted severe weather from Friday midday to Saturday warning of, “GUSTY WINDS, DANGEROUS LIGHTNING, HEAVY DOWNPOURS, HAIL AND POSSIBLE WATERSPOUT OR TORNADIC ACTIVITY and possibly LOCALIZED FLOODING.”
Reports of hail, the freakish funnel cloud, downpour flooded streets, submerged cars and stranded workers trying to get home made for a shocking weekend.
There were dramatic videos of the forecast, waterspouts, which made an appearance near seaside restaurants Sapodilla Bay and Traveller’s Rest. The ‘water tornado’ slashing against parked cars, producing whipping winds and tossing water into the restaurant elicited screams and frantic activity as residents could be heard rushing to safety.
The storm is unseasonably early with the official start to the hurricane season still two weeks away; but it maintains a trend for severe weather consistently appearing well ahead of the official June 1 start.
On Tuesday waterspouts erupted in the bay off Harbour Island, Eleuthera, also in The Bahamas as the country was inundated this week with SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
The latest forecast as weekend approaches is there will be more of the same.
“EXTENDED FORECAST (FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS): A TROPICAL WAVE, SKIRTING THE
SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE BAHAMAS, WILL PROGRESSIVELY MOVE WESTWARDS AND
RAIN CHANCES IN THE FORECAST INTO SATURDAY.”
The first tropical wave of 2022 has been identified but a pre-season storm is not yet expected. There have been pre-season tropical storms for the past seven years in a row according to WWLTV and the season is expected to be more severe than usual.
“An above-average season with major hurricane landfalls in the U.S.and in the Caribbean is unfortunately likely. Accuweather experts predict.
“16-20 named storms and six to eight hurricanes. Of those hurricanes, about three to five are forecast to reach major hurricane status.”
Boaters and swimmers in the two archipelagos – The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands – were warned to be cautious as well, “BOATERS SHOULD REMAIN VIGILANT DUE TO THE THREAT OF POSSIBLE WATERSPOUT ACTIVITY. BEACHGOERS SHOULD EXERCISE CAUTION DUE TO THE RISK OF RIP CURRENTS,” the Meteorology Department said.
Government, fulfilling commitment to provide housing for Bahamians
By: Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services
#TheBahamas, May 18, 2022 – The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has underscored the government’s commitment to “strengthening” and “deepening” its “unmatched” legacy of providing access to decent, affordable housing to Bahamians.
“Our BMC Executive Chair, Barbara Cartwright, is committed to expediting those applications and assigning without delay, suitably qualified housing applicants.
“I believe the number of applications at BMC in just the last eight months is in excess of 3,500. This housing demand suggests that we move with urgency and dispatch.”
In this vein, the government, Monday, along with stakeholders, unveiled The Renaissance at Carmichael, a housing sub-division on 70 acres of crown land off Carmichael Road in Western New Providence.
Executives of the government and public-private partnerships (PPP) participated in a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, May 16, 2022 at the Office of the Prime Minister, which will allow Bahamian families the ability to open the doors to 200 new homes.
The subdivision is being funded by a PPP arrangement between the Government, a $20 million backing from PROVEN Wealth Ltd. through Simplified Lending, the Mortgage Corporation of the Bahamas and financiers.
Dignitaries in attendance: the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; the Hon. Vaughn Miller, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources; the Hon. Pia Glover-Rolle, Minister of State for the Public Service; Leroy Major, Executive Chairman, Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet; David Davis and Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretaries; Barbara Cartwright, Chairman, Bahamas Mortgage Corporation; Oral Lafleur, Acting Chief Housing Officer; and Thomas Ferguson, Acting Director of Housing. Representatives of private sector partners: Robert Pantry, Founder and CEO, Simplified Lending; Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Limited.
Prime Minister Davis assured that as the economy fully opens and grows, the government expects to expand PPPs in other areas of national economy including public infrastructure providing investments, ownership and job opportunities for Bahamians.
Minister Coleby-Davis said the initiative will set a new standard in affordable housing by which other housing developments will be measured.
“With this project we intend to create an estate where a sense of community thrives. There will be lit streets, sidewalks; a park where children can play safely and family gatherings can take place. Neighbors will be able to come together and interact as our families were able to do many years ago.
Formerly known as Carmichael Village Sub-division, the community will comprise 104 single family, two and three-bedroom residences, and eight two-storey condominium buildings with 12 units each.
In a video presentation Minister Coleby-Davis said, “Thanks to Simplified Lending, a Bahamian company which secured funding through a leading regional finance company called PROVEN. Many who only dreamed of home ownership will be able to walk through the front door to their new lives in less than one year.”
She informed that homes will be built to the highest quality with steel frame construction, storm-rated windows and doors, attractive facades and strong concrete foundations raised three feet above road level.
“Thanks to careful design, planning and exemptions on certain building supplies, every home will remain in the affordable price range opening doors to home ownership starting at $130,000,” she said.
Mr. Heaven said, “This transaction today will be primarily funded through the Bahamian portion of our Heritage education fund which is a regional education savings plan that is over 30 years old and is a household name for saving for your children’s tertiary education.”
The government broke ground for Pinecrest Sub-Division, a 43-lot community in Southern New Providence in January of this year.
BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna
Header: From left: Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary; the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet and the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
1st insert: The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, is pictured speaking at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding for The Renaissance at Carmichael, a new sub-division in western New Providence.
2nd insert: The Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing and Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Ltd., after ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
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