After much confusion, Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Kwasi Thompson finally cleared the air regarding the ‘All-Clear’ status following the departure of Hurricane Irma.
On Monday Thompson explained.
“‘All Clear’ has been given for Grand Bahama. Bimini’s ‘All-Clear’ situation will be determined by police and locals,” Thompson reported early Monday morning. However, later in the afternoon the ‘All Clear’ was given for Binimi as well.
It was reported on the radio at 7:00 a.m. Monday morning that a national all-clear notice was issued for the entire country. Thompson cleared up the misconception, regarding the Northern Bahamas.
“I have spoken to representatives of the power company and they have been out doing their assessments and they are aware that we needed to make this decision in terms of the all clear. I want to be clear now and say that after consulting with the police that the all clear will be given at 9:00 a.m. for Grand Bahama.
“We have done our assessments and residents can now begin to move and the all clear will be given at 9:00 a.m. I am happy to be able to say that the police have done exactly what they were supposed to do; NEMA has done exactly what they were supposed to do and have completed all of their initial assessments and now persons can traverse.
“We however, are giving a very strong caution to residents because the power is still out, water is still out and those crews need to complete what they are doing. While the all clear has been given and persons who have to move… and I stress only those persons who have to move, should… those crews, and those power and water personnel still must be out doing what they have to do to restore us to full capacity.
“We are still cautioning residents to remain home, if they can. We want to be clear because we do not want any confusion with respect to the all clear. The all clear has been given nationally and now, it has been given locally as well,” he detailed.
Because of the misconception, there was confusion among residents living on this northern island.
Thompson further stated that there are still issues with respect to the airport.
“Again, the process is, once the all clear is given, the airport protocols now move in place because the airport has their assessments that need to be done and then the airport will indicate to us when their checks have been completed and they will be up and available for flights to be leaving and flights to be coming in.
“What we want residents to remember is that we have just come out of a storm and there have been persons affected by this. Power is still out; water in many respects is still off, so we want you to still remain in that heightened state of alert so that persons are not injured, persons are not moving about unnecessarily. Those essential persons that need to move, the all clear is given for them to move safely. However, if you can remain home, do so, just so that you do not get in the way of these emergency persons, the power company and the water company, who are doing what they need to do, to make sure that we are up to full capacity.
“We are still recommending that you please stay out of the way of these crews. Allow them to do the work that they need to do so that we can all be up to capacity,” he further stated.
The minister of state then spoke directly to the cause of the misconception.
“We have to do a better job in ensuring that the national persons, who are responsible for these matters, speak to and fully communicate with the local persons who are on the ground because there was a protocol on the ground for Grand Bahama.
“We followed our protocol on the ground for the island of Grand Bahama. It is unfortunate that there was some information that would have been given out that was inconsistent with what we were doing on the ground. We were speaking about this throughout the whole process, that a call will be given, by ourselves, in terms of when an all clear would be given, that was based upon the Met office and NEMA. NEMA represents all of the agencies here on Grand Bahama. We decided yesterday this was what was going to happen. We gave a time frame, we stuck to that time frame and we then did our assessments.
“Those were completed and now that the assessments have been completed, the all clear, locally is now in effect,” said Thompson.
He concluded that the all clear for the island of Bimini was to be determined once the police and the locals had completed their assessment of the island.
“DCP Emrick Seymour, the officer in charge of the Northern Bahamas District, which includes Bimini, will make a statement on that. The all clear that we have given so far is for Grand Bahama. We must follow what is happening on the ground and make sure that we listen to the locals. Obviously what is happening on the ground is different for Bimini; we were not given the all clear as yet for Bimini,” concluded Thompson.