The call for evacuation has been constant from those urging residents to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma.
Following an emergency management team meeting for the island of Grand Bahama, at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon, Island Administrator Preston Cunningham, as well as Tammy Mitchell, who is the Supplies Officer and Deputy Co-Chair of the Disaster Committee with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), strongly advised residents of low lying areas on the island to evacuate and seek shelter inland.
Cunningham said the matter of evacuation is urgent.
“We could never emphasize sufficiently the extent to which this hurricane is so powerful; extremely powerful. I cannot say sufficiently also, to be reminded of how these hurricanes can behave, so strange sometimes. It is difficult to predict, exactly what a hurricane will do. In that regard it is incumbent upon every citizen throughout Grand Bahama, and indeed The Bahamas, to ensure that you are in fact ready.
“Firstly, make sure that your homes are ready, properly secured. Do not wait, hoping to get lucky. Secure it now. If your homes are not sound structurally, please make provisions immediately to move, whether to a family member, (and we prefer you going to the family member), or if you cannot find a family member, where you can go, then move to the shelters, in time.”
With respect to all of the emergency communication devices the island administrator confirmed however, that everything has been checked and is ready to activate.
“All of our communication and communication equipment have been checked. We know who are challenged persons are. I must emphasize, those of you who live on the shorelines, the low lying areas, please do not wait until the storm is bearing down. I ask you now, to prepare to get out, without delay. Any delay can be extremely dangerous. We do not want to put the rescue people’s lives at risk, or no other persons lives at risk. Get out now, if you live in a low lying area.
“I also want to inform the public that the command center has been relocated. While the number remains the same, (351-4902/3/4), the facility is now on the ground floor of the Harold DeGregory Building.”
The Center was activated on Thursday. Residents are urged to make the calls whenever necessary and emergency personnel will be in place to respond, promised Cunningham.
“Please call if you must call. We will have persons from every agency available to respond to whatever your needs may be.
“Please, the message is, do not ignore the instructions. Do not ignore the command. The storm is very, very serious. Take this very serious and follow instructions. Let us bind ourselves as we pray to the almighty God, that He will sustain and keep us throughout this serious time, he further stated.”
NEMA is known as the lead agency as it relates to disaster or threat to the island, however Mitchell informed that the agency does work in tandem with all of the government and non-governmental agencies (NGOs) to ensure the safety of residents throughout The Bahamas.
According to Mitchell, the NEMA center was opened as of Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. and the emergency operations unit was activated on Thursday.
“We have also conducted a preliminary check in reference to all of our emergency supplies. When we say emergency supplies, they include the basic supplies that you would need to send to the shelters, to ensure that those things are in place. We are however, encouraging persons throughout the length and breadth of Grand Bahama in particular, to make sure that when you do leave your homes, please remember to take along your important documents, passports, government issued identifications, your children’s school records, anything that you know you will need to utilize if the home unfortunately gets hit. We are also encouraging you to ensure that when you do go to the shelters, that you do take along the necessary items to assist you while you are there.
“All of the agencies are going to be working along with us. We encourage everyone to please remain safe. Please remember to listen to the local forecasts, with reference to the weather. As Hurricane Irma is changing as we speak, it is key for us, to always remain calm, stay prepared and, continue to follow instructions. We also wasn’t to remind persons to please, consider that when there is an opportunity for you to evacuate from a particular area, that we know is deemed unsafe, we encourage you to please evacuate, inland, to your friends or families and of course try to ensure that you know where the closest shelter is, to where you reside,” concluded Mitchell.