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Why So Little Aid And Why So Late?: Year From Irma, Islanders Insist Govt Does More

Conditions on Ragged Island in 2017 after Hurricane Irma.

Conditions on Ragged Island in 2017 after Hurricane Irma.

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net 

RESIDENTS of Ragged Island are calling for more government assistance than the $4,000 per household issued by the National Emergency Management Agency on Friday. 

Restoration Ragged Island Association Chairman Ellerly Lockhart told The Tribune while residents “definitely” do not consider the money to be enough, they see it as a start.

Mr Lockhart was also dismayed the “first physical assistance” provided to Ragged Islanders by the government was delivered less than two weeks before the first anniversary of Hurricane Irma. 

He added this treatment has contributed to the distrust locals now feel toward the Minnis administration and could affect how they will respond to any future evacuation notices. 

Following the assessments, NEMA approved 18 households on the island for assistance. They received a maximum of $4,000 per household to further assist with post Hurricane Irma recovery efforts.  

Hurricane Irma passed over Ragged Island as a Category 4 storm on September 8 last year. The hurricane wrought widespread devastation, and the island was subsequently declared uninhabitable by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. 

Shortly afterwards, Dr Minnis announced the government’s intention to “transform” it into the first fully “green” island in the region.

Nearly a year later, locals are still living in a state of desolation.

“There’s still no government services down there,” Mr Lockhart told The Tribune. 

He clarified while there is electricity, phone services, and finally water facilities, other major services are absent from the island. 

“There’s still no nurse, still no kind of health facilities, still no kind of educational facilities, still no kind of local government administrative facilities. Business is still being conducted in Holy Innocence Church. 

“There is no post office, no postal service. So you can’t— literally you cannot send no money.”

He added people either do not receive their mail or receive it when bills are past due. 

“Things that you take for granted in other parts of the Bahamas, (Ragged Islanders) don’t have that.” 

Mr Lockhart’s house was “totally destroyed” by the hurricane. He described himself as an “in transit” resident, between Nassau and Ragged Island, as he rebuilds. 

He also said the lack of government water facilities for months after the storm hindered his ability to rebuild.

“The water situation was still an issue when I started (rebuilding). It was still very, very iffy. So I couldn’t build or use water for building and compete with the resident who needed to use water for daily purposes. 

“I literally had to take water on the mailboat to Ragged Island for construction.

“That situation has since been rectified,” he added. “The water situation is now back to what it was pre-Irma. 

“The water situation has just started to get regularised over the past three to four weeks. That’s by the Water and Sewerage Corporation. (They) purchased a plant and the plant is functioning.”

Three months into the 2018 hurricane season, Mr Lockhart said locals are on “pins and needles” regarding the possibility of another major storm hitting the island.

However, he doubts all residents will evacuate this time, and pointed to the government’s refusal to lift the “uninhabitable” declaration as contributing a factor to this decision. 

“I am telling you literally that many, many persons there still will not be able to withstand hurricane weather,” Mr Lockhart said.

When asked if more people will evacuate should the government issue an order, Mr Lockhart replied: “No. The people really don’t trust the government. They don’t trust the government because they think the government has ulterior motives or (is) trying to get them off Ragged Island. 

“(Locals) are hailing… those residents who remained on Ragged Island as heroes because they believe (that) if they were to (leave) Ragged Island, especially since the prime minister…declared that Ragged Island was uninhabitable, if everybody had vacated Ragged Island, you wouldn’t have been able to re-enter, you wouldn’t (have) been able to get back to Ragged Island.

“You would have been prevented from landing on Ragged Island. You would need permission to land on Ragged Island. That’s why those 17 people who remained on Ragged Island were so important to the (local) community. 

“And I don’t think that the people will be welcoming to the evacuation order or evacuation this time around, because they really do not trust the government now, especially how they were treated over these past 11 months.

“Irma hit Ragged Island on the 8th of September . . . And the first physical assistance that individuals got from the government for individuals – I’m not talking about water, light, things like that – I’m talking about assistance in terms of help, was couple days ago. The government gave them $4,000.”

However, Mr Lockhart added he “congratulates” the government for the initiative and said “any amount of money is welcome”. 

When asked if residents consider the money to be enough, he said “definitely not but it is a start”.

“And hopefully the prime minister will reconsider the uninhabitable status of Ragged Island,” he added. 

“We, especially as chairman of the Restoration Association, we would really like for the government to pick a government building, you don’t have to do them all. Just pick one and repair, rebuild. 

“That would be kind of a jumpstart for the economy of Ragged Island… That’s not an unfair request, right?”

Comments

Sickened 1 year, 3 months ago

Hi, I want to live in a house on stilts between Nassau and Exuma, government should provide me with running water, electricity and help me rebuild my home after a hurricane! That's not an unfair request, right?

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Why should there be any more doubt by 91,409 comrades voting up the House 35 red shirts MP's 10th May, 2017, about this Imperial red cabinet's emulating Trump's meanness and lack compassion for equally as american citizens Puerto Ricans - when tis suspect Republican consultants were not only engaged for the red party's 2017 general election campaign... but have remained as influential advisers up in PMO. Call up PMO and demand they answer the question about the Republican monkey on their backs, truthfully.

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

This government seems to have adapted the attitude of abandoning people and projects that take more than just ordinary effort to bring relief and closure to. And chasing projects they can resolve with just the stroke of a pen , or projects that get them in the news. It may be an expensive exercise to rebuild and repair these islands, but if the Southern Islands are abandoned, this will create even more costly problems for the country in the future. Like poaching and illegal immigration.Government can set out a timetable for the rebuilding and repair process over a period of time starting with the most essential services and continue until the islands are up and running.

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themessenger 1 year, 3 months ago

Thats actually not a bad idea John, the the locals relocate to some where more practical with the government giving them Crown land to rebuild on and relocate the main Defense Force base from Coral Harbour to Ragged Island. If the Haitians and the Dominicans can still enter with impunity with the base located there we might as well close up shop.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

In fairness to the govt on this, they told the people the island was uninhabitable. The residents took it upon themselves to move back. That's the context.

Now if it were my island I'd want to move back too. But if you do that you can't forget that the govt already told you not to.

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moncurcool 1 year, 3 months ago

Why do we have this lax attitude in our country that government is to give you money after a hurricane. Isn't that why you should insure your house? If you don't then you cant expect the government to do it for you. Nonsense

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

if you read the article with comprehension, it is not only personal homes that are in need of being replaced, but virtually all the essential services. And once an area is declared a disaster area, the government or relavant agencies are expected to step in and offer assistance wherever they can.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

Exactly "ALL" essential services. That's why the gift told them the island was uninhabitable

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themessenger 1 year, 3 months ago

I couldn't agree with you more. My property suffered a considerable amount of damage in hurricane Mathew and during others previously. The Government has never even offered me four dollars never mind four thousand dollars to help with my clean up efforts and repairs. When will Bahamians get over their dependency on government for everything? Feed me, house me, gimme money, gimme a job where I ain gatta work, gimme school uniforms and free lunch, and now fix my house in time for it to be destroyed in the next hurricane to come this way. How do you define who's house you fix after a hurricane, or Ragged Island people more special or needy than people in Andros, Nassau or Grand Bahama? Setting a very dangerous precedent here if you ask me............

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sealice 1 year, 3 months ago

Why are they britching and complaining??? Hurricane hits Nassau and we don't get fruckall for relief - we get more thieves and more dirt but help not so much.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 3 months ago

"He clarified while there is electricity, phone services, and finally water facilities, other major services are absent from the island.

“There’s still no nurse, still no kind of health facilities, still no kind of educational facilities, still no kind of local government administrative facilities. Business is still being conducted in Holy Innocence Church.

“There is no post office, no postal service. So you can’t— literally you cannot send no money.”

He added people either do not receive their mail or receive it when bills are past due. "

SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN WE SHOULD DO EVERYWHERE. Cut government expenses drastically. If Ragged Island people can live without (and obviously love to live that way) - then the rest of us should too.

These Ragged Island people need mental help. Government should have used those $4000 cheques to move them to Grand Bahama. More people to help the economy recover there.

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

Did any news agency report on how those helicopters buzzed the inner city at 3:am this morning, terrorizing residents. Unconfirmed reports is that it was a drug operation.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Holy shi@ Comrade John. lets hope flying squat within defense force - recognized the wisdom have issued night vision goggles helicopter pilots.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm guess be even longer wait conditions improve on Ragged Island after 2017 Hurricane Irma - before Comrade Ragged islanders be hooked up Cable TV... when Cable Bahamaland, had send in crews disconnect their cable lines - well before the Shantytowns demolitions could commence. { No makin' this up }.

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DWW 1 year, 3 months ago

This is just nuts in so many different ways.

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The_Oracle 1 year, 3 months ago

While I feel for the People who live there, or used to, and have experienced the devastation personally no less than 4 times, I will say that successive Government have set Bahamians up to expect handouts and Government rescue. I've watched the political pecking order destroy honest decent humanitarian effort, I've seen NEMA warehouses receiving materials that never leave aside for personal political use. I've watched hurricane supplies and Generators resold and money pocketed. Who's Money will the government give? With what expertise or hope it will be used appropriately? As to the mail complaint, the whole country waiting for mail! All of the Out Islands are dying, as they pull more people to Nassau, apparently with the aim of sinking it! The last entity I would expect or want help from is Government! The real problem is zero economy. Instead of a half dozen B&B or fishing lodges, we have massive resorts in Nassau! We have sizable resorts in G.B. closed! We are left with a legacy of incompetence and foolish mindsets created to control. Insanity. Again, to lose ones home is horrible, to see ones island laid to waste equally so, but griping to the biggest problem the country has for more is ludicrous! And where are these $4000 payouts coming from? The Consolidated Fund? VAT income? Donated Funds? Can we have an accounting? Seems the other day the Government abandoned their feeble attempt at an audit trail for rebuilding materials by just handing out money, and not just in Ragged Island.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Ma Comrade The_Oracle, unless you're aware some secret plan reverse the downward spiral spin the Capital of colony islands has been experiencing years - who in their right mind would wish relocate along with their loved-ones to the Capital - from any 70 islands... even a hurricane destroyed Ragged Island is better place raise family than Nassau. ...... apparently reinforced by the need construct VIP movie theater - hoping attract good number movie goers from Gated Communities.
{ Can't be making this stuff up about once you enter movie theater- you can request glass fine Wine and Blanket cover ya self up }.

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 3 months ago

The FNM Government did more for Dominica than they did for Ragged Island. considering a defense boat was sent. doc and Mr. Symonette on a plan viewing the damage ,

doc is having a good time travelling up and down wine, dine and dance is the order of the day. as he and his crew blunder on.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

It's been declared uninhabitable. The IDB report said don't even rebuild it.

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 3 months ago

The people of Ragged Island deserve all the hand outs they can get from the tax payers money. Remember they have very little income. and they live on those Islands and bring life. Should they move the Islands will be taken over by God knows who.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

The tremendous economic boom on little settlement Hope Town wouldn't come about had the government forced mandatory relocation all Comrade HopeTowners following devastation's left behind from number hurricanes past years........one had long hurried Six feet deep bodies from upper and lower graveyards uprooted end up free-floating in harbour... but maybe some has hidden reason want single out Ragged islanders special government forced relocation.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

Nassau should not dictate what Ragged Island needs or whether it should be abandoned or not. This land is our Bahamaland ........... our family roots run deep on ALL islands. The Ragged Island Diaspora had a chance to come together, rebuild, and prove the Nassau government wrong ......... Instead they are bickering over NEMA handouts .......... How SAD.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

No one said they should abandon it. I know I said if it were my island I'd want to go back to. My position is you can stay, but you can't dictate to the govt who told you not to go there. Now if they told you not to go there you went somewhere else and they didn't help you, you could make hay about that.

If they want to stay stay. But you can't "demand" that the govt to go above and beyond for the situation you put yourself in.

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

There are islands ways more devastated that are rebuilding. Towns in the US that have been hit with hurricanes and others by forest fires and yet others by tornadoes. And they rebuild. So they tell you not to rebuild then come claim the islands?

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

Yeah and then those towns have to rebuild every year when it floods. The water telling you where not to build....remember the foolish man and building on the sand?

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realitycheck242 1 year, 3 months ago

The Gov and well wishing Bahamians from all walks especially the private sector needs to come together with a concrete plan with deliverable dates and schedules for the redevelopement of Ragged Island. One year has passed since the hurricane and Minnis words and pronuncments are proving to be a fools promise. I say again Ragged Island is of strategic importance to this country a should remain inhabited at all cost. and could be an example of renewable developement that is possible after a hurricane.

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EasternGate 1 year, 3 months ago

Here we go again! How long must Government coddle intransient Bahamians? If they chose to stay fine, assume responsibility for your own shelter and safety!

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The_Oracle 1 year, 3 months ago

Ragged island could have been the Bahamas showpiece in the 100 island Challenge as signed onto by the Bahamas, as part of the Carbon war room efforts of R.Branson. Opportunity squandered as always. Would have payed massive dividends in Triggering Alt energy development IF coupled with a decent National Alt Energy policy. Instead we allow BEC/BPL to bicker and stall, delay and pilfer while we all sit in Darkness. Ludicrous.

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

The hypocrisy of it all is while Minnis told the Bahamian Southerners to abandon their homes and not rebuild, he is busy purchasing a hotel and will spend over One Hundred million to repair the hurricane damage to it. This is after the foreigners , also abandoned the property, and did not want to sink the necessary funds in it to make it operational again. Now stop me when I say something false or incorrect. The Bahamas has been experiencing hurricanes ever since the history of these islands began. There is no known part of the acrhpeligo that has been declared uninhabitable due to threats of hurricane and has been left abandoned due to previous hurricane damage. Even the most severely damaged areas do manage to recover and live for years before they experience major hurricane damage again.

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themessenger 1 year, 3 months ago

John, the crux of the matter here is that the government, AKA the taxpayers, should NOT be footing the bill to rebuild the Ragged Islanders homes when they cannot provide the same subsidy for every other Bahamian, Androsian, Exumian, Nassuvian, Eleutheran, Grand Bahamian who's home was damaged or destroyed by hurricane, or are you suggesting that some Bahamians are more deserving of taxpayer subsidy than others? The government should be responsible for the rebuilding/restoration of the islands infrastructure ie water, electricity, communications etc but restoration/rebuilding of private property is a matter for the owner. Duty exemption can be provided as in the past for building materials etc but the onus still falls to the property owner to fix their own stuff.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

So true Messenger .......... Hurricane Joaquin destroyed one-third of Long Island in 2015 ............ We are struggling like hell .......... but NEMA has not shown up here to issue out cheques to us ........ nor Crooked Island.

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killemwitdakno 1 year, 3 months ago

True the South is still first, then Freeport and other Matthew himself areas, then Ragged.

Ragged is only 100 population. Maybe Disney wants it.

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