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Editorial: Still Too Much Confusion

A SMALL but significant step took place yesterday in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian - the Missing Persons Help Desk was deactivated.

The desk has been open at the Department of Social Services for some weeks now, and while perhaps the number of queries it has received has dwindled as people have had time to report their missing friends and family, the number of answers are still in short supply.

It is seven weeks since the storm - and the confirmed death toll remains at 65, a number that is widely agreed to be a serious underestimate of what the final figure will be.

Meanwhile, there has been confusion over the number of people still unaccounted for - the last figure being 282 according to National Security Minister Marvin Dames, but that was amid conflicting information with Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell saying 1,208 were unaccounted for.

Each of those numbers is more than a statistic - it represents a much greater number of family and friends whose lives have been upturned as they try to find their missing loved ones.

Earlier this week, The Tribune highlighted the case of Tanario Lowe, an Abaco native who has not been heard from since Hurricane Dorian hit the island.

His family have searched every shelter, filed a report with the police, and still have no answers.

"We don't know what to think or what to do, or where to go from here," said his sister, Godydra Gardiner.

It sometimes feels as if the focus has moved on from those most affected by the storm and the family members caught between hope and dread as they wait for more.

The trickle of information about confirmed deaths has been just that, a number that has hardly moved over the weeks since the storm.

There have been a few announcements of names and photographs of the missing which have been dutifully run by the newspapers, ourselves included, in the hope it might help families to reconnect - but not nearly enough announcements given the number who are lost.

The number of updates from police and the National Emergency Management Agency have also slowed - the graphics posted to Facebook by NEMA offering weekly updates stopped at the end of September and have not been seen since.

Whatever the number of missing - be it the 282 quoted by Mr Dames or the 1,208 identified by Mr Campbell - the truth is that results in thousands of relatives and friends still trying to resolve a sudden hole in their lives.

Others may have moved on to focus on the looming court battle over the demolition of shanty towns, arguments about undocumented migrants, squabbles about the sudden departure on holiday of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force commander while affected islands still lack security, and other matters - but families lacking answers cannot move on.

It is nearly two months since the storm - and no one is standing up with a likely estimate of the number of those dead.

Our noticeboards and the pages of this very newspaper should be plastered with the images of the missing, day in, day out, in the hope - the very small hope these many weeks on but hope nonetheless - that a reunion might still happen.

Or if there is no hope - to let people know who has been affected, to show the human cost that has affected our islands.

We urge the police and NEMA to rectify this - to spread the word once more, and to ensure those who are at the heart of this tragedy are given the importance that they deserve.

These families deserve more. They deserve not to be left saying that they don't know what to think or what to do. They deserve our public authorities to be there for them in this ongoing time of need.

We hope - there's that word again, hope - that they will listen to the voices calling for their help.

Comments

The_Oracle 3 weeks ago

It appears this Government administration fears the truth. The truth is hard, sorrowful for many and in stark contrast to our past 50 years of relative peace (ever declining) and prosperity(also declining sharply) How can anyone Govern with such a fear of the truth, the facts and with such a blatant disregard of the realities of the Dorian aftermath? Disgraceful in actions and appearances. Delusional. Unfit.

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