Roadways and this resident home on the Island of Rum Cay is submerged in water, as Tropical Storm Noel move through the central and northwestern islands of The Bahamas. (Photo by Kaye Wilson)
Nassau, Bahamas – Residents of Rum Cay reported massive flooding in many parts of the island as Tropical Storm Noel passed through the islands of the Bahamas. Noel dumped heavy rains and sent over 40 mph winds on islands in the central and northwestern parts of the country. Residents on Rum Cay reported that the island had been hit with rains from as early Monday causing road leading to that island’s airport to be submerged in 5 feet of water. Residents also noted that in Port Nelson where teachers and clinical workers lived were flooded in 4 ft of water, causing the need for those persons to be evacuated to higher ground.
Concerned citizens are still moving about that island to assess the situation on the ground, as the greater part of the storm is now out of the Bahamas.
Residents on Long Island has experienced the worse of the killer storm that had taken the lives of some 80 persons in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Long Island like other parts of the Bahamas experienced much flooding by the killer storm. Residents of Long Island had to be evacuated in some settlements as flood waters flooded homes and kept some vehicles submerged in waters. Teams on the island could not move from the central part of the island into the northern section due to the mass flooding along the roadways to the north. Long Island had been already experiencing heavy flooding three weeks before Noel, due to heaving rains on that island.
Hon. Larry Cartwright said that the Island’s flooding bring another sad occasion as he along with an assestment team is expected to leave the capital for the island tomorrow.
In New Providence on Thurdsay the capital city was virtually shut down as all government non-essential services and many private businesses remained closed. Areas like Pinewood Gardens (in the southern district) experienced some flooding with some home owners needing to evacuate in the Jacaranda Street area.
The Prime Minister lead a press conference Thursday morning where all essential government service department heads spoke to the press on the preparedness of the country for T-storm Noel.
Remarks by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham at the National Emergency Management Agency’s press conference on Tropical Storm Noel:
THE PRIME MINISTER: I just want to express our thanks and appreciation to all of the volunteers who have stepped forward both here in Nassau and in the Family Islands. I especially want to say to Family Islanders who have stepped forward now that the Administrators and Chief Councillors are in Nassau, that their leadership is very deep. I especially want to commend Pastor Silbert Mills in Abaco who has become the NEMA of Abaco and who calls NEMA to tell them what he has done and what he is doing.
Q: Are you satisfied with NEMA’s preparedness?
THE PRIME MINISTER: Very satisfied. I followed them up to three o’clock this morning. I went to sleep and then got up at 6am and they were there all night. Yes.
Q: What about the Public Service and the educational system, when will it be up and running?
THE PRIME MINISTER: We expect them to go to work tomorrow. We expect the [storm] system to be over tonight and we expect the public service to return to normal tomorrow and for schools to re-open tomorrow unless something happens that says otherwise.
Q: Will you be flying to the affected areas?
THE PRIME MINISTER: We will make determinations and determine who should go, etc. I am not in the showboating business, I am in the business of action.
Q: What about assistance to those who have been affected?
THE PRIME MINISTER: We will do an assessment and do what is necessary.
Q: Have you received word from leaders in the region or around the world offering assistance?
THE PRIME MINISTER: No, but you know, this is less than a category one hurricane. We have received offers from the Americans to assist us with transport, etc and we have accepted that.
Q: The costs from Noel?
THE PRIME MINISTER: We don’t expect it to be a challenge that can’t be met from our existing resources.
Q: You say this is less than a category one hurricane. Do you presume then that our resources are sufficient to take care of all the damages, etc?
THE PRIME MINISTER: Generally speaking, that’s a general statement. I do not know, but I don’t think it rises to the level of us being required, for instance, to access the Catastrophic Health Insurance Programme which the World Bank has assisted CARICOM in putting into effect. I think it would be a cost that can be taken care of by local resources.
Q: Are there any lessons to be learned from this?
THE PRIME MINISTER: Well we will know at the end of the exercise but right now things are going fairly well. What I would hope is that we would have…I listened to ZNS last night and late into the morning. I would hope that would have more information provided and less speculation. One of the things that we can do with NEMA is to ensure that we have people who are available to be able to do that sort of thing and participate with the ZNS announcer throughout the course of the night so that people can be assisted and informed.
Q: It has been said that the system is not designed to handle the flooding that is now being experienced. What is the plan to fix that?
THE PRIME MINISTER: There are some things that are unfixable and no one has found a means by which to prevent flooding in low lying areas anywhere in the world. That is our lot in The Bahamas. We have taken steps to minimise flooding and cause water to be moved in the fastest possible time.
One of the things it does point out for us is that we cannot continue in The Bahamas, especially in Nassau, to allow people to build houses, businesses and subdivisions on these low lying areas and that our planning and our building control authorities, etc must change. And so the government is going to produce in parliament probably before the end of the year new a new Town Planning Act that will have various protocols and that will in the future restrict the number of these places that are in fact built upon. If you notice that is happening all over this island – low lying areas having buildings built on them. That also impacts upon the question of flooding. The filling of wetlands is something that has to come to and end. It has to stop.
Q: How has the storm affected the business of the government?
THE PRIME MINISTER: It has affected it to the extent that we are not at full speed today or yesterday.
Q: What are the government’s plans to address the culverts on Long Island?
Roads in Rum Cay submerged in flood waters on that island.