LONG ISLAND, The Bahamas – Government officials and stakeholders inspect a culvert in North Long Island, on November 28, 2007. Pictured, from left, are Minister of Lands and Local Government, the Hon. Sidney Collie; Administrator for Long Island Rodrick Bowe; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Local Government Harrison Thompson; Director of Physical Planning Michael Major (partially hidden) and local town committee member Wellington Taylor. (Photo by Raymond A. Bethel)
By Clunis Devaney
LONG ISLAND, Bahamas – The Government is proposing to spend substantial sums of money in Long Island as it moves to elevate roads and improve the drainage systems.
Scrub Hill, just outside Clarence Town, still shows evidence of the massive flooding caused by Tropical Storm Noel in late October. Several homes and businesses still have water up to doorways.
Government officials, led by Minister of Public Works and Transport the Hon. Earl Deveaux, toured a number of settlements from Seymour’s to Clarence Town on Wednesday, November 28, 2007, where they personally inspected broken or corroded culverts, inadequate docks and damaged bridges.
Minister Deveaux has assured that drainage conduits will be replaced with plastic pipes, which would last longer and are durable.
Also in the team were the Minister of Lands and Local Government the Hon. Sidney Collie; Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources and Member of Parliament for Long Island the Hon. Lawrence Cartwright; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Local Government Mr. Harrison Thompson and Director of Works Ms. Melanie Roach.
At Seymour’s, the officials assessed the condition of the Newton Cay Bridge, which allows access to farmlands.
Due to severe cracks in the span, a barrier has been placed to prevent vehicular traffic venturing on the bridge.
According to Minister Deveaux, the bridge is used by the community and is one of the pathways for the spawning fish and fishing boats.
He believes the concrete bridge should be replaced by a wooden bridge that would be environmentally sensitive and sustainable.
“We can do it quicker and then we can get the elevation that they need to get smaller boats under it easier,” the Minister said.
Inspections were also conducted of the drains at Deals, Bunches, Burnt Ground and Benzie.
At Benzie, a 2,000-ft. long trench has been dug to channel the water from Scrub Hill and Hamilton’s into the ocean.
Minister Collie said he is very pleased with the level of recovery since the storm.
“I notice that there are some houses where the water damage was so severe the people have not yet returned to those houses,” he said. “And there is still a lot of water, even though it is not on the road, most of it is on both sides of the street.
“Essentially, people seemed have gone back to their daily ordinary life. The mail boat was in, the dock was busy, people were there getting their freight and moving about, so I am pleased. I expect it is going to be a long time for the farmers, in particular, to recover.
“We have seen some of the farms, some of the banana plantations, in particular, obviously very devastated.”
Minister Collie said the Government knows what is wrong, “and we are happy with the level of normalcy that has returned.”
According to Minister Deveaux, the Government has already done an assessment following Noel, “where we used GPS (Global Positioning System) instruments to measure the flood plains. We recognize that in building infrastructure – particularly roads, sea walls and approving sub-divisions – we have to increase the elevation and improve the drainage.”
He said Long Island has an abundance of natural drainage systems, “some areas the rock is exceptionally hard so a combination of strategies will be necessary. In some areas we may have to improve the permeability by putting in some drainage wells and in other areas by diverting around the natural drainage areas.”
Minister Deveaux indicated that in some parts of North Long Island, culverts have collapsed because of heavy traffic and long use.
“We just have to replace those,” he stated. “There are other strategies which appear to me to make more sustainable sense, with specific regard to shoreline protection, utilizing some of the naturally occurring rocks that have been mined on the island so that we can accommodate the utilization of local material and local labour.
“As a result of this combination, we can achieve a more desirable end.”
Minister Deveaux underscored that “we definitely have to plan better with respect to where homes are built.”
He said this information is now loaded on the GPS instrument at the Ministry of Public Works “so we know where the maximum elevation of water was achieved and we can plan when we amend our Sub-division Act and Town Planning Act for elevation.”