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Fury of Fiona leaves Turks and Caicos virtually unscathed

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos breathed a heavy sigh of relief, recognizing with the passage of major category three Hurricane Fiona, the archipelago had been miraculously spared serious damage.  Hurricane Fiona, which is blamed for 27 deaths across the Atlantic Basin, devastated larger nations from September 16-24 to the tune of $12 Billion.

Fiona wreaked havoc on Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Canada leaving millions without electricity and dozens homeless. There was intense flooding in Puerto Rico and the entire island lost power, landslides and flooding damaged homes in the DR and whole seaside homes washed out to sea in Canada where Fiona lashed five Atlantic provinces.

In spite of being hit by the hurricane at category three strength, The Turks and Caicos has only minimal damage to report, according to Premier Washington Misick.

“Early assessment indicates that well hit by a category three hurricane the Turks and Caicos suffered level-one damage which is a credit to the state of our preparedness and the credibility of our infrastructure.”

Misick also credited the country’s resilience to the careful planning of the islands emergency response and the flawless execution by Deputy Governor Anya Williams and her team as well as the upgraded infrastructure installed post Irma and Maria

While the Turks and Caicos is still recovering, according to Governor Nigel Dakin the crisis period has in the rear view mirror of the islands now.

Once the all-clear was given, the main airport, the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) was reopened to air travel. A week after the storm, all airports and ferries were operational again. Digital connection was mostly restored as was electricity.

At the start of this week, Governor Dakin said information shared in recovery meetings exposed the bruises caused by Hurricane Fiona included severe damaged to the one mile causeway linking North and Middle Caicos.

Poles were also laid flat in the hurricane’s 150mph winds.

“Ninety-five of customers across the country now have electricity after Hurricane Fiona,” said FortisTCI, the nation’s electricity provider in its fifth report on restoration work.

At that time, Middle Caicos stood at 55 percent with power back on, once the causeway was cleared of debris. Bambarra and Lorimers on the island, were among the last to get electricity.  FortisTCI reported on Friday September 30, both settlements were reconnected.

“At 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 29, Middle Caicos now has 96 percent of customers restored.  The majority of customers in Bambarra and Lorimers now have electricity.  Only a small pocket of customers were pending restoration at the time.  The focus has been to energize both settlements via Conch Bar’s electricity generation unit, while crews rebuild damaged sections of the main transmission and distribution network.”

The Governor also updated on the cruise ship industry.  He explained Carnival Cruises, after addressing the damage, set a potential opening date for October 4th, pushed back from Thursday September 29 as was listed on the Grand Turk Cruise Centre website.

Students in Grand Turk and the sister islands were able to start attending school by Monday September 26th a week after Fiona and the resulting outages.

Ten days after the storm, FortisTCI has restored connectivity to 99.3 percent of customers across the country. Grand Turk residents were the hardest hit and as of Thursday night, some 95 percent are back online.

The electricity restoration now speeds up reconnections and repairs with FlowTCI, on September 28 the telecoms company gave an update on Grand Turk and North Caicos.

“Fixed broadband for all Flow business customers has been successfully restored. A few customers’ services remain impacted due to a lack of commercial power,” said Flow about Grand Turk, for North Caicos, “The realignment of link between our Minorca Hill and Stubbs Road has been successfully completed.  Teams were deployed in North Caicos today (September 28) to focus on restoring fibre connectivity to residential customers and bringing First Caribbean Bank ABM services back online.”

Digicel, less than 48 hours after the hurricane, reported that all of its networks were running, hampered only by customers who were waiting on electricity restoration.  Digicel, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 decided to migrate to an underground network, which went unaffected in the passage of recent Hurricane Fiona.

Humanitarian support was also immediately available to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  With both the Governor and Premier out of the country, due to the State Funeral and National Security meetings in the United Kingdom, it was handy having the TCI Regiment and UK soldiers on hand to led military-styled assistance.

Co-chairs of the National Emergency Operations Center, Anya Williams (acting) Governor and E. Jay Saunders, (acting) Premier were part an aerial reconnaissance mission thanks to the HMS Medway; its helicopter allowed a birds eye view of the damage done by the storm.

The intel gain guided clean-up and allowed the leaders to connect with islanders who faced the most ferocious part of the storm, this included Salt Cay.

Despite the fairly swift recovery Governor Nigel Dakin reminds that the season is not yet over and residents should prepare for a potential second encounter, praying for the best while expecting the worst.

Since then, Hurricanes Gaston, Hermine and Ian have formed.  Ian, which grew to near category five strength over the state of Florida, is now blamed for 21 deaths, has left 2.5 million in the dark and as the surge waters subside, US President Joe Biden pledged full support to rebuild.

Caribbean News

Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.

The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.

After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.

The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.

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Bahamas News

Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.

This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre.  Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.

It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”

Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.

The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.

As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.

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Bahamas News

Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.

Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.

Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.

“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.

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