Minnis, who toured the area on Monday, said his administration is committed to sending a plane into the ravaged island on Tuesday to evacuate the 17 residents who did not take advantage of the initial opportunity to be evacuated from the island ahead of the dangerous storm.
“I have already spoken to the relevant agencies and we can have a flight fly in tomorrow, leave Nassau by 8:30am and arrive here at least by 9:30am to evacuate you.”
“I know that you are concerned about leaving your properties here, but we will have the Defence Force send the relevant vessel here to provide security and to try to clean up as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Minnis said, noting that the clean-up following the storm will take some time.
“What we see here — it’s not going to clean up overnight. It’s going to take a while. You are Bahamians and it is our duty and responsibility to ensure that you are safe and that the quality of your lives is maintained, if not improved. But by staying here it will deteriorate,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
The Category 5 storm caused massive damage and destruction to the island last Friday, with early estimates suggesting that almost 90 per cent of the buildings there were either completely destroyed or were severely damaged.
Downed power lines and poles snapped in half by Hurricane force winds still littered the community Monday as Minnis and his delegation, which included damage assessment teams, toured the island.
Government buildings, including schools, police station, clinic and post office as well as homes and businesses were either flattened by the storm or severely damaged. Many of those that were left standing were only a shell, having had doors and concrete walls torn out; roofs torn off, and windows blown out.
The island is also without communication. The stench from the rotting carcasses of dead animals was also evident.
Minnis, who is also a medical practitioner, said he was ordering the second evacuation in the best interest of the residents.
He said the stench from the rotting carcasses of dead animals, presence of downed power lines and poles resulting in the absence of electricity, the absence of running and potable water, the loss of communications, the destruction of the clinic nullifying the availability of any potential medical treatment in the event of injury and/or sickness, and the presence of large amount of debris, could present health hazards for residents.
“What we see here… is complete devastation here in Ragged Island. All roofs are destroyed; health facilities are destroyed. Today we have no water, we have no light, no medical facility and as you walk about you can smell the stench from the carcasses of dead animals.
“There are a lot of exposed nails around, if anything should happen to you there is no medical facility here – none. (And) It’s only going to get worse over the next few days. It’s only a matter of time before mosquitoes start.
“I think it would be best for you to be evacuated to New Providence. I know some of you want to stay but I think the health conditions are going to deteriorate, the stench is going to become worse, and you are placing your lives in jeopardy,” he told the residents.
(Photo courtesy OPM Bahamas)