Fri | Dec 3, 2021

Bahamas: 42 days after Hurricane Dorian’s landfall

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2019 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy - Gleaner Writer
Jeffrey Roberts, 49, eats a plate of food while searching through the rubble of his relatives’ home which was destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in Pelican Point, Grand Bahama, Bahamas.
Haitian migrants displaced from their homes destroyed by Hurricane Dorian at Abaco Island wait to get on a bus to receive aid from humanitarian organisations, in Nassau, Bahamas, on September 29.
In this September 11, 2019 photo, a shattered and water-filled coffin lays exposed to the elements in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, at the cemetery in Mclean’s Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas.
In this September 19, 2019 photo, buildings in Marsh Harbour on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas are devastated by the effects of Hurricane Dorian.

It has been more than a month since Category 5 Hurricane Dorian made landfall in The Bahamas on September 1.

Slow-moving Dorian ravaged sections of the island for three days, leaving many displaced and homes under several feet of water.

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said it left a “generation of devastation” across Abaco and Grand Bahama – the two most affected islands.

Several countries and organisations came to the assistance of the Caribbean island and the recovery process is ongoing.

The government’s recent count puts the death toll at 61 and hundreds of people remain missing.

Autopsies have been conducted on the victims and 46 bodies have been released to families for burial.

According to Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands, the government may bury the bodies of hurricane victims who have not been identified.

“Once it’s agreed and the public consultative process has been completed, then based on international best standards, the plan would be to place, in respectful way, the remains in a burial site where they can be retrieved if the identification process takes place subsequent to burial,” said Sands.

Some bodies, especially those recovered from Abaco Island, are decomposed beyond recognition and families may have to provide tissue samples to identify their dead.

Restarting economy

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K. Peter Turnquest announced last Thursday that $10 million will be taken from the country’s Dormant Fund to help restart the economies in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

“Both Grand Bahama and Abaco represent some 18 per cent of our overall gross domestic product, and so it is in our interest and certainly significant for us to get them back and up and operating to as near normal as quickly as possible,” Turnquest said.

The Bahamian government created a new ministry on September 22, which is tasked with the responsibility of reconstructing Abaco and Grand Bahama.

The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction falls under the Office of the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has reported that they have adopted the use of a new technology to conduct building damage assessment (BDA).

“To date, approximately 3,000 houses in Grand Bahama and Abaco have been assessed using the BDA methodology. This valuable data will assist the government in cost estimations of damages and planning a ‘build back better’ strategy. This tool will also help the government to prioritise reconstruction efforts, develop new and more resilient public policies to better inform the public,” a release from the UNDP stated.

The technology replaces the paper-based process and provides real-time reports using online questionnaires on mobile devices. It was used in Barbuda and Dominica following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.


Additional information from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA):

- Schools under the Ministry of Education are close to opening.

- Businesses and homes are still being connected by the Grand Bahama Power Company.

- Assessments and temporary road reinstatement in East Grand Bahama have been completed.

- Clean-up continues as contractors are bringing in upgraded equipment.

- Vector Control teams are currently on the Island to carry out fogging for the control of mosquitoes.

- 4,309 evacuees have been registered by the Department of Social Services.