PRIME Minister Perry Christie with members of his Cabinet will go to Abaco and Eleuthera today to get a first hand account of the damage that Hurricane Sandy has left in its wake.
Mr Christie and his team have already visited Long Island, Cat Island, and Grand Bahama – some of the most hard-hit islands in the archipelago.
In Long Island, the Prime Minister said they saw crop damage and a number of persons without electrical services. In Cat Island, he said, there was substantial damage to roads.
In Grand Bahama, however, the PM said there was tremendous flooding, particularly in low-lying areas.
With two persons losing their lives as a result of the hurricane, Mr Christie said he was appreciative that the number was not higher, considering the fact that Sandy was initially forecast as only a Tropical Storm.
At this point, Mr Christie added that government has yet to put a dollar figure on the damage seen throughout the affected islands. He added, however, that the government must look at its disaster preparedness and the necessary steps that can be taken to help mitigate the effects that such storms can have.
“Sandy has had a significant impact in Grand Bahama. We went to Gold Rock Creek where we saw houses that were flooded. The frightening thing for me is people spoke about (Hurricane) Francis coming and bringing three to four feet of water. With Sandy it came up to six feet. One day will it be 10 or 12 feet? So how do we best protect these areas that are low lying.
“The question is, should we move for mandatory evacuations so as to avoid what happened in Queens Cove where they went to this resident and asked him to leave, and he didn’t and when they came back he had drowned. We have to move to the stage where we provide for mandatory evacuations.
“We went from West End and tried to get to High Rock, but water impeded our way. Sandy was forecast as a tropical storm, but became a hurricane and had a real significant impact down here,” he said.
Mr Christie said that if there was a lesson to be learned from this hurricane, it is that public education must continue with respect to how the government responds to such disasters.
“We have to constantly work at it. We found pensioners in nice homes and this storm comes along and they lose everything. It is something that I have been talking about for a year and a half, and that is disaster preparedness and the steps that you have to take to mitigate them year round. The question is do we have allocations each year to mitigate this. This has to be a top concern for the country.”
Free National Movement leader Dr Hubert Minnis confirmed with The Tribune last night that he and other FNMs would be travelling to the affected islands as early as today to do similar damage assessments and give encouragement to the residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Today, the FNM will fly to Grand Bahama, Abaco and Eleuthera. On Tuesday, they will go to Long Island, Exuma and Cat Island.
Depending on their findings in those islands, Dr Minnis said that he and his team may decide to travel even further south to see what impact Sandy had on the Southern Bahamas.