Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, Iram Lewis, announced on Wednesday, July 29, the priority of closely monitoring potential tropical cyclone number nine, as it approaches the islands of The Bahamas.
During a press conference on Lewis said the weather development was a primary focus.
“The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction is fully aware of the system that is in the tropics. It is not expected to be a major system however, we will treat it as such, and, put all of the necessary protocols in place to ensure that we are indeed ready.
“We are working closely with the Met (Meteorological Department), The Department of Social Services, the City of Freeport, and, my colleagues (ministers) in Grand Bahama. We are all meeting to ensure that we are in a complete state of readiness,” said Lewis.
Hurricane shelters are being prepared, further inspections are being carried out Lewis informed.
“We just came out of an EOC (Emergency Operations Center) meeting with the various emergency support groups, and, so everyone has been given respective mandates on what to do with respect to being ready. We will make a call with respect to opening up our EOC, perhaps by Friday afternoon (July 31), certainly no later than Sunday (August 2). Even though we are not expecting a hurricane, we will still be in the position, just in the event that something shifts.
“The Met Department will of course give us its rationale. We are following that lead. We are mindful of all of the COVID-19 protocols and we are certainly preparing our shelters with those protocols in mind.
“All of our shelter workers are fully aware, and, our team from the Ministry of Health is fully aware of the protocol. In fact, all of the various emergency support functions and our partners are fully aware of the COVID-19 protocols,” emphasized Lewis.
The Grand Bahama Port Authority is a key partner.
“We are also in discussion with the City Manager (Grand Bahama Port Authority), Troy McIntosh. One of the concerns is that there is still some debris to be collected. We do not want any unnecessary projectiles on the streets. According to the Director of the Met Department in Nassau, (Trevor Basden), we are not expecting a lot of wind, however, they are titling this potential storm as a rainmaker, and so we are expecting a lot of water to come as a result of rainfall.
“Even though the debris may not become a projectile, we do not want to have debris floating all over our communities. We have the City of Freeport and their partners at Sanitation Services, as well as private contractors, doing their best to ensure that we manage our debris collection and containment as much as possible,” expressed the Minister of State.
He also offered on update on shelters on the northern island of Abaco and surrounding cays.
“With respect to Abaco and the Abaco Committee, South Abaco, they met last night and I was reassured that the communities of Moore’s Island, Sandy Point, Cherokee Sound and Crossing Rock were all involved. I was also assured that persons on Green Turtle Cay and Guana Cay, headed by the Local Government, are actively preparing the facilities there.
“In terms of Grand Cay, shelters will be mainly at the school. On Moore’s Island I was reassured that the school is well underway. They have the final inspection today (Wednesday, July 29) by the Ministry of Works and Social Services, to ensure that the school is ready. Even though the school is not 100 percent, it is suitable to withstand this storm. In addition to the school, the church on Moore’s Island is ready and able to activated as a shelter, should the need arise, disclosed Lewis.”
As for shelters here on the island of Grand Bahama, Lewis said that an updated list of approved facilities should be disseminated by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) by Thursday July 30, to include a combination of both churches and schools on the island.
In terms of activating them all, for this particular disturbance presently in the tropics, Lewis informed that there was no anticipation for such a need.
“We are not going to activate all of the shelters, based on the information coming from the Met Department, but they will be ready.
“If we do need to use the shelters, then we will most certainly mobilize them, but I do not see (that). Based on the advice that we have been receiving, we will not have more than a couple of shelters in the west, central and perhaps one in the east, if necessary. That will probably be Maurice Moore Primary School, which has undergone a serious transformation. The contractor has done a wonderful job there. If we need to use Hugh Campbell School, that is completed; as well as Jack Hayward Junior High School, which is also in immaculate condition, as well as Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School.
“As necessary, and as advised by the Met Department, we will activate those shelters, in conjunction with our other stakeholders,” concluded Lewis.