Prime Minister Provides Update on Hurricane Relief Efforts

Press conference held in Exuma Saturday evening

October 4, 2015 (Nassau, Bahamas) – Prime Minister Perry Christie led a delegation Saturday to islands affected by hurricane Joaquin. Members of the delegation included many cabinet minister, members of the opposition Dr. Hubert Minnis and MP Hubert Chipman, and top officials from NEMA, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, BTC and BEC.

The Prime Minister held a press conference Saturday evening at the airport in Exuma after touching down in Long Islands and flying over several other hurricane affected islands.

“We are not going to spare any effort at all in being able to bring immediate assistance to the people wherever they are,” said the Prime Minister.

The delegation had the opportunity to speak to residents in Long Island about what they have been through and what they need. Officials also began conducting assessments as it relates to humanitarian needs, telecommunication challenges and electricity concerns on the island.

Prime Minister Christie stated there is major devastation in the South of Long Island. The group was able to fly over other affected islands such as San Salvador, Run Cay, Crooked Island and Acklins, but could not safely land.

However, the Prime Minister stated that in addition to Bahamian assets, the British Navy, and US coast guard are assisting in rescue efforts, assessments and repairs, and providing humanitarian aid to severely affected islands simultaneously.

Captain Stephen Russell, Director of NEMA said, “We are trying to concentrate resources that will be able to bring relief to the people of these affected areas.” He highlighted that NEMA, through coordination with the US Coast Guard, were already to rescue nine persons on Samana Cay.

Captain Russell also noted that marines are being deployed to Inagua in order to mobilize upon Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Island.

Leon Williams, CEO of BTC commented that the company has lost towers in Crooked Island and Long Island, and that BTC staff is working 24/7 to restore communications.

The General Manager of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), Kevin Basden said during the press conference that BEC is “going to take every step to ensure customers’ [power] is restored as quickly as possible.”

He announced that while a great deal of infrastructure was still intact, flooding is a major challenge. The urgency is to continue assessments and get the priority circuits on. Mr. Basden stressed that BEC would be ensuring that resources are allocated to allow teams to work on multiple islands at the same time. He reminded residents to stay away from downed power lines and allow the experts to deal with them.

The Prime Minister stressed that the Ministry of Social services will be having a very dynamic and immediate impact on recovery efforts. Minister Melanie Griffin stated that team from Nassau are conducting assessments as early as Sunday. This includes not only determining the physical needs of persons, but the psychological needs as well.

Prime Minister Christie also yielded the mic to the leader of the opposition, Dr. Hubert Minnis, saying, “we always try to take an approach to this that is based on national challenges and appreciation that we have to work together to overcome what our people are confronted with.”

Dr. Minnis called upon churches and schools to organize donations and aid for those affected. He also stated that this is a time for the country to come together, “There’s no red and there’s no yellow. When lives are at stake we must all work together to ensure the safety…of those particular lives.”

To conclude the press conference, the Prime Minister announced that he had received information from the Commissioner of Police which revealed that as of Saturday evening, there have been no confirmed losses of life as a result of the hurricane.

He said in the coming hours and days, The Government of The Bahamas will continue to dedicate resources to strengthen NEMA’s capacity to affect the recovery efforts. Special teams of persons with certain qualifications such as engineering, social service and healthcare, will be deployed to help with relief and restoration activities.

The Government of The Bahamas thanks all persons and organizations that have already sprung to action to donate, collect and distribute water, food, and other needed goods to Bahamians in need as a result of this hurricane.

If we are to be a Stronger Bahamas, we must be united and be our brother’s keeper.

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