Storm Surge Workshop opens in New Providence
By MATT MAURA
Bahamas Information Services
#NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 20, 2023 – Meteorologists, climatologists, oceanographers, Geographic Information Services experts, Emergency Managers and Planners, and storm surge experts from the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States of America, have joined their Bahamian counterparts in New Providence for the Bahamas Department of Meteorology’s Storm Surge Workshop.
The workshop, which opened Tuesday (March 16) and will conclude Thursday (March 18), drew participants from the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, St. Maarten, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Curacao, Belize, Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas.
Included in the activities observing Disaster Preparedness Month throughout the month of May in The Bahamas, the event is facilitated by storm surge experts from the Storm Surge Unit of the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida. The workshop is sponsored by the University for Corporation and Atmospheric Research (UCAR), located in Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.
UCAR is a US non-profit consortium of more than 100 colleges and universities providing research and training in the atmospheric and related sciences and manages the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on behalf of the National Science Foundation. UCAR is a hub for the Earth system sciences, and a gateway to cutting-edge resources and services. Its community programmes offer essential resources and services to support the Earth system sciences.
Local, regional and global researchers say storm surge associated with tropical storms and hurricanes, when combined with waves, is one of the greatest threats to life, property and the environment — especially for low-lying, coastal areas such as The Bahamas.
Storm surge is primarily caused by the strong winds in a hurricane or tropical storm. Additional impacts of storm surge include extensive property loss, erosion of beaches, damage to coastal habitats, and undermining of the foundations of infrastructure such as roads, docks, bridges and government buildings in the case of The Bahamas. Storm surge also poses a serious threat of death by drowning.
Acting Director of The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, Jeffrey Simmons, said one of the expected outcomes of the workshop is two-fold — the development of a Storm Surge Atlas for The Bahamas, and acquiring the tools to better forecast storm surge.
“At the end of the day we definitely want to be able to have the tools to better forecast storm surge,” Mr. Simmons said. “We are looking at developing a model so that whenever we have a hurricane (or tropical storm) approaching, we can just put in all of the information pertaining to real time information with regards to intensity, size, its movement and then it will actually give us a map of how deep we can expect water in certain areas on certain islands that would be affected. It will also give emergency managers and planners, government decision-makers with more real-time data on a number of matters ranging from possible evacuations to shelter locations.”
Dr. Cody Fritz, PhD., is a Storm Surge expert and the Head of the National Hurricane Centre’s Storm Surge Unit. He spoke of the dangers associated with storm surge.
“We’ve done a lot of studies that have shown historically that storm surge is the leading cause of death on any given day for a hurricane and it has really been the Hurricane Centre’s position to work towards developing scenarios, introducing hypothetical scenarios to kind of understand the true vulnerability from storm surge,” Dr. Fritz said.
“Knowing that storm surge is a serious threat to loss of life and has historically been that leading cause of death in a tropical cyclone, it has been our approach to communicate just how threatening storm surge can be in any given event.
“I would really tell people in The Bahamas to heed those warnings that come as associated with tropical cyclones and hurricanes, and storm surge especially. You are low-lying and you have a lot of vulnerabilities, significant risk to storm surge in this area,” Dr. Fritz added.
BIS Photos/Anthon Thompson
Header: Robbie Berg, NOAA/NWS/National Hurricane Center; Cody Fritz, NOAA/NWS/National Hurricane Center; Kathryn Payne, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; Katie Chapman, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; Raegan Kerfoot, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; Jeffrey Simmons, Acting Director/Bahamas Department of Meteorology
1st insert: Members of the Bahamian delegation attending the Storm Surge Workshop which opened in New Providence Tuesday, May 16 at the Margaritaville Resort. The workshop is sponsored by the University for Corporation and Atmospheric Research located in Boulder, Colorado, United States of America. Pictured (from left) are: Dr. Brandon Bethel, University of The Bahamas; Jade Pearce, National GIS Centre, Ministry of the Environment; Suzanne Russell-Dorsett, NEMA/GIS Specialist, Grand Bahama; Jeffrey Simmons, Acting Director, Bahamas Department of Meteorology; Geoffrey Greene, Chief Meteorologist, Bahamas Department of Meteorology; Shayvonne Moxey-Bonamy
Chief Meteorologist/OIC, Bahamas Department of Meteorology, Grand Bahama Office; and Mary Butler, Chief Meteorologist, Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
2nd insert: Meteorologists, Hazard and Disaster Management Specialists, and Storm Surge Specialists from around the Caribbean for the 2023 Storm Surge Workshop.
Bahamas Government Solidifying relations with Saudi Arabia in High Level Meeting
#TheBahamas, May 30, 2023 – On May 22, 2023 members of The Bahamas cabinet, led by Philip Davis, Bahamas Prime Minister reported that “Yesterday’s fruitful bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Davis and His Excellence Ahmed bin Aqil al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, showcased growing ties and collaboration between both nations.
Prime Minister Davis expressed support for Saudi Arabia hosting World Expo 2030 and discussed a potential diplomatic visa waiver agreement.”
Together, we aim for improved diplomatic relations and exciting opportunities ahead!
Minister Moxey congratulates Defence Force Ranger graduating class, Grand Bahama
#TheBahamas, May 30, 2023 – It was a proud moment for parents of more than fifty boys and girls, who had gathered, along with the Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey for their graduation from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers program, to officially become Defence Force Cadets.
“On behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and on behalf of the Minister of National Security, Minister Wayne Munroe and all of the members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, we salute you, we are proud of you, we encourage you and we want you to continue this journey,” Minister Moxey told the new recruits during the ceremony on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Workers House in Freeport.
“You offer so much to this country, and you are the future of this country. We are cheering for you.”
The event culminated weeks and months of training for the new recruits, encompassing leadership skills, character building exercises, physical training, drills and discipline.
The Grand Bahama Minister said that she was excited, happy an proud to be filling in for National Security Minister, Wayne Munroe, to witness the advancement to a new level of training for the young recruits.
Sharing a brief history of the program, which has existed for almost three decades, Minister Moxey noted that since 1995, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Ranger Program has had a rich legacy of transforming the lives of Ranger cadets, by empowering them through leadership training, military discipline and civic, community, cultural, spiritual and sporting activities.
The program was first introduced at D.W. Davis Secondary school in Nassau, with the initial goal of redirecting the path of challenged male students at the junior high level towards the path of becoming more productive members within their schools and communities.
“Since that time,” Minister Moxey pointed out, “the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Ranger Program has evolved into a vibrant youth organization, with students participating from 40 schools in New Providence and 24 schools in some of the Family Islands, namely Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Andros.”
She said that in addition to leadership training and the development of core values, the program aims to prepare young Rangers for employment in the wider community, with particular attention to deployment to the Defence Force, and the commercial maritime sector.
During the brief graduation ceremony, the new recruits displayed for the Minister, Commanding Officers and their parents their newly acquired skills in parade drills, physical fitness, discipline, and musical talents. As this year’s Rangers graduate to full Defence Force Cadets, a new corp of recruits will be enrolled for next year’s training program.
Consumer Protection Bill 2023
Addresses rapidly evolving consumer needs in the digital era providing better protection for Bahamian consumers, said Prime Minister Davis
NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Communication on the Consumer Protection Bill of 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis termed it a “significant piece of legislation” designed to enhance the rights of consumers across The Bahamas.
“This Bill is for all Bahamians, from the young mother budgeting for her family’s groceries, to the retiree investing his hard-earned money in a new home appliance,” he said, in the House of Assembly.
“Our individual households, our communities, and our economy depend on the integrity and fairness of trade,” he added. “Over the years, the Consumer Protection Act, Chapter 337C, has served as a firm foundation in ensuring fairness in our markets. However, in an era of digital transactions, global markets, and rapidly evolving consumer needs and products, it’s time for us to strengthen our laws, to adapt and to better protect the interests of Bahamian consumers.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the proposed amendments directly correspond with his Government’s “Blueprint for Change” and “Economic Plan”, and reflected its belief that consumer protections were critical to economic development, poverty reduction, and social well-being.
“Our economic growth depends upon a market which encourages healthy competition, drives innovation, and ensures customer satisfaction,” Prime Minister Davis stated. “At the heart of this new Consumer Protection Bill is a commitment to restructuring and reorganizing the existing provisions for better clarity and comprehension.”
“The Bill aims to expand definitions, refine the functions of the Consumer Commission, and modernize the ways in which the Commission operates,” he added. “These changes are driven by a commitment to transparency and by aligning our policies with best international practices.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government’s focus on transparency supported a market environment in which all players, big and small, could operate, grow and prosper in a manner that was regulated and fair.
He added that his Government was also enhancing the ways consumers can lodge complaints.
“Under the new Bill, consumers can make complaints even while outside The Bahamas, and we are expanding the list of who can make a complaint on behalf of the complainant,” Prime Minister Davis said. “These changes reflect our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that all Bahamians have a voice and can seek redress when necessary.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, in a world that was increasingly digital, his Government recognized the need to streamline processes and make it easier for consumers to give evidence. To that end, he said, the Bill included provisions to allow for virtual testimony, which will expedite investigations and support convenience for consumers.
“The proposed legislation also empowers the Consumer Commission to issue Advisory Notices in situations where harmful practices to consumers are identified,” he added. “We believe these notices will serve as a valuable tool in preventing harmful business practices and educating consumers about potential risks.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that a significant change under the new Bill was the mandatory licensing and registration of providers. Failure to comply will result in penalties, encouraging businesses to operate within the boundaries of law and promoting a culture of accountability, he added.
“The Bill includes stringent provisions against misleading and deceptive conduct, harassment, and coercion,” he said. “We want to create a marketplace where consumers can engage with confidence and without fear.”
“A critical aspect of the Bill is the restriction of pyramid selling and the obligation for businesses to state the full costs of goods or services,” he added. “These measures will help ensure that consumers are not exploited or deceived.”
Prime Minister Davis stated that the Bill seek to repeal sections that no longer serve their purpose, including those on approved and non-approved services and businesses offering repair services. Updating the laws to respond to changed conditions, he added, allowed his Government to ensure the people were served effectively.
“As we continue to usher The Bahamas into the digital age, this Bill also enhances our ability to oversee distance selling and payment arrangements,” Prime Minister Davis said. “With the growth of online commerce, it’s vital that we maintain robust checks and balances, ensuring that every transaction is fair and transparent.”
“Additionally, the Bill expands on the powers of the Minister to make necessary regulations to protect consumers effectively,” he added. “This is crucial as it provides us with the flexibility to adapt and respond swiftly to emerging challenges and opportunities in the marketplace.”
The enactment of the Bill signaled a “significant shift” in his Government’s approach to consumer protection, Prime Minister Davis said. He added that they were aiming for an inclusive economy where everyone had access to safe, quality goods and services at a fair price.
“The Bill goes beyond enhancing the rights of consumers; it is about improving the lives of Bahamians,” Prime Minister Davis said. “It’s about ensuring that when a young Bahamian entrepreneur sets up his first business, he does so in a marketplace that values fairness and transparency.”
“It is about ensuring that when a Bahamian family invests in a new home, they do so with the confidence that their rights as consumers will be respected and protected,” he added. “It’s about creating an environment where businesses thrive on the principles of fair competition and customer satisfaction.
Prime Minister Davis noted that consumer protection was not just about trade, it was about people.
“It is about building a nation where everyone, regardless of their social or economic standing, can confidently participate in the marketplace,” he said.
“In a broader sense, it’s about the kind of country we want to be,” he added. “A country where trust is the cornerstone of our marketplace, where businesses and consumers interact with mutual respect and understanding. A country that values and upholds the rights and dignity of every individual.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, through that Bill, his Government aimed to empower consumers to make informed decisions, to assert their rights, and to seek redress when those rights are violated. That, in turn, will encourage businesses to uphold the highest standards of integrity, fostering a vibrant and fair economy, he added.
“The Consumer Protection Bill is about building a Bahamas where consumers are informed, businesses are accountable, and the marketplace is a space of fairness and trust,” Prime Minister Davis said. “It’s about creating a culture of consumer rights and responsibilities, where every transaction is an opportunity to demonstrate respect and fairness.”
“This bill is more than just legislation — it is a testament to our commitment to the Bahamian people,” he added. “It is about ensuring our nation’s prosperity and our people’s well-being.”
“It is about creating an economy that values and protects its consumers, a resilient, inclusive, and fair economy.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, in tabling the Consumer Protection Bill 2023, his Government were making a strong statement about the future it envisioned for The Bahamas.
“As we discuss and debate this bill, let us keep at the forefront of our minds the people we serve – the Bahamian people,” he said. “Let us remember that this Bill is not just about rules and regulations, it is about their lives, their rights, and their future.”
“I am proud to present this Bill, confident that it will set the stage for a more secure, equitable, and prosperous Bahamas.” (BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
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