- What has changed since Hurricane Dorian?
- Many Bahamians still don’t have closure
- No surprises with IOM findings and deficiencies
- Preparation is key to saving lives and property
We are exactly three weeks away from the start of the 2020 Hurricane Season. According to forecasters and predictions, the upcoming hurricane season will be above average in terms of tropic activity, number of storms and major storms.
It is sad that many families still don’t have closure from Hurricane Dorian as the remains of their loved ones remain in a container in Abaco while we may never know the real number of persons that perished in that storm.
The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) had urged the government to develop a comprehensive restoration plan after Dorian. We took the government to task on the mismanagement of the immediate response and evacuation. The creation of a new ministry, increased bureaucracy and the slow pace of the recovery have many in Grand Bahama and Abaco concerned. This situation has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in a study funded by USAID has warned that The Bahamas is not ready for the 2020 hurricane season. This comes as no surprise to the Bahamians who have been urging the government to treat this matter with a sense of urgency. We are fast approaching another hurricane season and it seems that the Prime Minister and his government have not learned from the government’s failures and shortcomings.
The IOM confirmed that most of the emergency shelters in Abaco and Grand Bahama are unusable and many shelters are built in vulnerable locations. They also noted that there is no credible plan for the mass evacuation or housing of residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the event of an impending major hurricane.
The government has received recommendations to increase shelter capacity, establish revised standards for shelters, conduct drills, build and repair shelters in appropriate locations, train emergency personnel and improve communication for emergencies among others.
What has been done to date? Are we more prepared for hurricanes and storms in 2020 than we were before Hurricane Dorian? Has the Prime Minister as the Minister responsible for NEMA been provided with the plan required by law? Has NEMA been restructured to address the deficiencies identified during Dorian? What has the new Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction done differently to make us more resilient as a nation? Has the new Disaster Reconstruction Authority implemented any of the numerous recommendations to make us better prepared for natural disasters?
Our people have suffered much from the devastation caused by the economic downturn, Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19. The least the government can do is to ensure that there is adequate preparation to prevent the future loss of lives and property. This requires the utmost urgency and attention. Time is of the essence.
Arinthia S. Komolafe
Democratic National Alliance