THE BAHAMAS – Devastation left in Irma’s wake

Hurricane Irma left Duncan Town, Ragged Island in a state of “devastation”, member of Parliament for the island Chester Cooper said yesterday, telling The Tribune the aftermath had left him “heartbroken”.

Cooper, Exuma and Ragged Island MP, said it was “mind blowing” to have seen photographs of the ruin on the island left behind by Irma, as he likened the situation to a horrific scene from television.

Out of the 60 or 70 people who reside on Ragged Island, 21 stayed behind to ride out the storm, Captain Stephen Russell, National Emergency Management Agency director, told reporters on Saturday.

While the island fared much worse when compared with the remaining southern islands, no lives were lost and no one was injured, Cooper said.

“I am absolutely heartbroken by what I see because all of the structures are very familiar,” Cooper said.

“These are areas where I’ve spent quite a bit of time. But it’s an indication of devastation on the island, but this is like the heart of the town and these buildings are very well-constructed – the school, the clinic, the Ponderosa Resort – and if this happened to those buildings, I can only imagine what the residences on the island look like.

“It is mind-blowing. It’s the kind of devastation you only see on TV. It reminds me of Joaquin in 2015 in the southeastern Bahamas.”

He added: “But in a nutshell, I am going there tomorrow (today). The winds were too strong today. If the winds subside hopefully I will be able to get in there tomorrow (today) to do a firsthand inspection and go to take some hurricane supplies for the residents who stayed and those who are very anxious about what they left. So they are going to go in tomorrow on my flight.”

Meanwhile, Captain Russell said based on various reports, he was encouraged by how well the southern islands fared during the hurricane.

Apart from extensive damage to the Morton Salt compound in Inagua, island administrator Julita Ingraham said “God was really good” to the island.

However, Inagua remained without electricity yesterday.

She said: “What they have been able to do since the hurricane, because prior to the hurricane Morton Salt had put the machinery on the ground for us so the Defence Force officers and the Police officers they were able to clear the runway and the road, which is Gregory Street, the main street of Inagua they are able to clear that.

“They were also able to get the generator for the community clinic up and started and they were able to assess the various damage within the community.

“Inagua sustained just minimal damage.”

Ingraham said residents of the island are in need of several items, which include: rakes, shingles, ice, water, plywood, nails, chainsaws, wheelbarrow and food.

There was minimal damage to the Inagua airport, but the Bahamasair office sustained damage, she said.

In Mayaguana, island administrator Earl Campbell said of the island’s 163 residents, 156 of them were evacuated. The remaining persons were left under the watch of three police officers.

“Some government buildings have roof damage (but) the high school in Abraham’s Bay and Pirates Well (there is) no serious damage,” he said.

“Mayaguana Airport runway was free of any large debris and there was no flooding nor the area where the ramp is (had flooding).

“Power lines (are) down in three major settlements: Betsy Bay, Abraham’s Bay and also Pirates Well.

“The sea wall in Pirates Well also had some damage.”

He said the roadways to all docks and all settlements were blocked from debris from the sea, adding most of the light flooding in areas were receding.

The Abraham’s Bay Police Station received roof damage and its communications tower is leaning, Campbell said.

He added there were persons who are responsible for electricity and water who were evacuated last Wednesday and are now anxious to return home.

Telecommunications on the island is also in working condition.

Regarding Crooked Island and Long Cay, island administrator Leonard Dames Jr said there are numerous homes without shingles, which were blown off by Irma’s strong winds.

Apart from this, the airport remains in good condition, one utility pole is down and there is roof damage to the school in Colonel Hill, Crooked Island.

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