By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
LONG Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner said yesterday that her constituency’s economy – specifically the fishing and farming industries – has been “completely devastated” by the passage of Hurricane Joaquin.
Mrs Butler-Turner told The Tribune that she toured farms and fishing spots on Monday and at least 75 per cent of the fishing vessels on Long Island have been “destroyed” and the farms have all been “wiped out”.
The category four hurricane battered Long Island two weeks ago, causing widespread destruction. Many homes and buildings were destroyed, trees were uprooted, power lines were knocked down and streets were left flooded.
Some residents reported up to 12 feet of water in their homes.
Mrs Butler-Turner said most persons, who have been fishing and farming for decades, now have to start to rebuild their businesses from scratch.
“The majority of the fishing boats have been totally destroyed. Most fishermen are now trying to preserve the engines (from) the boats because the frames are beyond repair. The surges pounded those boats against the land and destroyed them. If there are 100 fishermen in Long Island I would say 70 per cent to 75 per cent of them have their business destroyed,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“The farms have been wiped out,” she added. “The banana trees and fruit trees have all been uprooted. All the crops are gone and these people have to start all over again. Not only have they lost their homes but they have lost their livelihoods. I honestly do not know how they are managing. In Petty’s the food stores there have lost everything, the clothing stores are giving the items away because they can’t be sold. The economy of Long Island has been gravely impacted. Many of the animals and livestock have died or drowned and I know people were trying to burn them so they won’t smell. It will take a long time for Long Island to recover, but we will recover.”
Mrs Butler-Turner said the government has only given persons a “small window” to import the materials needed to rebuild and most people will not meet the “short deadline.” She was referring to an exigency order recently signed by Prime Minister Perry Christie that gives storm victims 90 days to import items duty free for rebuilding.
“I don’t know how in heaven’s name anyone with nothing is expected to get things that fast, but the government obviously has not comprehensively addressed the needs of the businesses,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“This is the biggest devastation we have ever witnessed and it does not seem that the government has grasped the needs of the people fully.”
In a press release issued on the weekend, the government, said Mr Christie, who is also minister of finance, signed an exigency order to respond to the urgent need for specified goods required for recovery and rebuilding.
The order covers relief of residents in the affected islands namely: Acklins, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Exuma, Inagua, Long Cay, Long Island, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, Ragged Island, Samana Cay and San Salvador who suffered hardship or loss as a result of Hurricane Joaquin, and whose claims/applications for such goods are certified by the director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The import of goods specified is permitted for a period of 90 days beginning October 3, 2015.
The category four hurricane, with maximum sustained winds around 130 miles per hour, battered the southern and central Bahamas on October 1 and 2.