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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS BY ELCOTT COLEBY (5 OCTOBER TO 9 OCTOBER)

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best viagra troche times;”>colebyPost Joaquin recovery efforts intensify

diagnosis times;”>Even though its short and violently destructive life has ended in the North Atlantic Ocean, health Joaquin dominated the national conversation and news cycles this week in The Bahamas. 

In the aftermath of this category four storm, on-the-ground assessments revealed that Long Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Acklins, Mayaguana, Ragged Island, Inagua and Crooked Island were impacted by the hurricane with Crooked Island being hit the hardest and suffering the brunt of the storm’s impact. Fourteen thousand persons or 4% of the country’s population live on those affected islands, but the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, estimated that of that number, about 5,000 persons were directly impacted. 

The “all clear” signal was given by the Meteorological Department at 9am on Saturday, 3rd October 2015 after one day of pounding the central and southern Bahamas.   

Airport openings:

Airport inspections commenced as early as Saturday (3rd Oct) morning and by Monday evening (5th Oct), only the Deadman’s Cay, Long Island airport remained closed. This paved the way for recovery efforts to kick into high gear alongside continued damage assessments. That airport was declared open on Tuesday, but only to receive hurricane relief supplies as the apron was still flooded. No passengers were allowed through the Deadman’s Cay airport. By Friday the 9th of October, Bahamasair announced the resumption of direct, stand-alone commercial flights to Long Island; San Salvador was dropped from the route. 

Infrastructure restoration:

Critical to the return to normalcy was the restoration of utilities – communications, power and municipal water. 

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company, BTC, opened free call centers on Long Island, Ragged Island and Inagua as its thirty member strong technical assessment team inspected their communications network. The call centers allowed residents to call loved ones and send emails free of charge. The team also took the opportunity to deliver supplies to affected residents during their tours. 

At a press conference held on Wednesday, the CEO of BTC, Leon Williams announced that communications were restored to Cat Island, Exuma, Cockburn Town, San Salvador (cellular services), and call centers were opened in Ragged Island, Clarence Town, Long Island and Inagua. He said that communications will be restored to all of the islands impacted by the end of the week. 

The Bahamas Electricity Corporation, BEC, also made steady progress. By Monday, 5th October, electricity was fully restored to Mayaguana, Exuma and Ragged Island while electricity was restored to parts of Inagua, Cat Island, and Long Island. By Tuesday, 6th October BEC reported that power was restored to Rum Cay and Acklins. 

As for the municipal water supply, the Water and Sewerage Corporation reported that the water distribution network in Simms and Deadman’s Cay, Long Island was restored while Crooked Island, Long Cay and Acklins were in various stages of restoration.  

School openings:

On Tuesday, 6th October, public schools on the islands of Cat Island, Exuma, Inagua and Ragged Island were opened.  Schools on the islands of Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Island, Mayaguana, Rum Cay and San Salvador all remained closed until further notice. 

The Deputy Director of Education with responsibility for School Management, Mr. Joel Lewis, hosted a meeting with teachers posted in Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay, at the MICAL District Office on Nassau Street, Thursday, 8th October to discuss the education of students living in the affected islands. BUT officials were also in attendance. The Ministry urged parents to contact the office of the Deputy Director to have the relocation process for the children fast-tracked. 

Evacuations:

Bahamasair, the British Royal Navy, the US Coast Guard and local aviation companies worked together in rendering assistance with not only the transport of supplies to affected islands but conducted multiple rounds of evacuation exercises, especially out of the much devastated Crooked Island. Some residents were flown to Nassau while others were reportedly checked into family island motels by the Department of Social Services. Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Philip Brave Davis indicated that the government might have to consider the option of resettlement of family islanders as the rebuilding efforts begin because of the enormity of the reconstruction in the affected islands. 

Solidarity:

In an impressive and powerful show of national unity and solidarity, foreign governments, the Bahamas Government, PAHO, corporate Bahamas, Bahamians generally and various local Non-Governmental Organizations, NGO’s, commenced disaster relief efforts shortly after Joaquin left last Saturday and these various drives gained momentum during this week. 

The Prime Minister led a delegation of cabinet Ministers, the leader of the Opposition, Parliamentarians, NEMA officials and senior government officials on four assessment trips covering every affected island from Saturday to Tuesday. Also, the United States government committed tens of thousands of relief supplies. It was reported that around 100 persons volunteered to package tons of supplies warehoused at the Odyssey Aviation facility for distribution to the family islands. 

The Honourable member for Long Island coordinated relief efforts, turning over supplies to NEMA for distribution. Even the Bahamas Information Services joined the relief efforts by purchasing supplies for distribution to sponsored families. The PLP, FNM, DNA, youth organizations, the Red Cross and the Rotary Clubs collectively led fundraising and disaster relief drives on behalf of our affected brothers and sisters in the southern Bahamas. 

 The CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) has confirmed that in an attempt to reignite economic activities on the islands impacted by Joaquin, the BCCEC will dispatch a support team to assist small businesses with becoming operational again. 

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company, BTC, and the Utilities Regulations and Competition Agency, URCA, held a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday morning where URCA announced that of the $1.5 million in fines levied against the BTC, $1 million would be donated to the government to assist with hurricane relief efforts. 

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) under the leadership of Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, PAHO representative to The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, deployed a team of five experts to the southern islands to assess and advise on the public health issues connected with this storm.      

Commonwealth Bank and Kelly’s House and Home donated $50,000 each to assist in the relief efforts. Commonwealth donated to the Red Cross and Kelly’s donated to the Salvation Army. The Bahamas Insurance Association joined the effort with a $5,000 donation to the Red Cross and $5,000 worth of goods to NEMA on Thursday of this week and the Lyford Cay Foundation donated $100,000 to assist with relief efforts. Click here to continue reading…