Prime Minister Perry Christie speaks at the NEMA press conference.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
“MAY God bless us all,” said Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on Sunday as monster Category 5 storm Dorian churns through the northwestern Bahamas.
Abaco residents who refused voluntary evacuation are now in for the “long haul,” he said, with parts of Marsh Harbour are already underwater.
At a press conference at the National Emergency Management Agency, Dr Minnis pleaded with residents in Grand Bahama to leave high-risk zones immediately.
He noted the country still did not have legislation authorising mandatory evacuation, but pledged draft legislation would be brought to Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
Dr Minnis said: "Grand Bahama, those individuals in the West End area, this is your last warning. We have made all necessary arrangements, at least 13 shelters available."
Residents in West Grand Bahama were urged to cross the bridge at the Fishing Hole Road by 3pm. Police will be there directing traffic and ensuring safe passage until that time.”
An emotional Dr Minnis also said: “This is probably the most saddened and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people.
“I just want to say as a physician, I've been trained to withstand many things but never anything like this.
“We are facing a hurricane, one that we've never seen in the history of the Bahamas. There will be gusts in excess of 200mph. We have some of the best standards of home-building within this region.
“Our homes are built to withstand at least 150mph so this will put us to the test that
we have never confronted before. The extreme surge of about 20ft... that’s higher than the average roof of our homes here in the Bahamas.
“This is a deadly storm and a monster storm," he continued, "on two previous occasions I have asked Bahamians to leave the cays and in the west and east.
“Many have not heed my warning, many are left behind, there are individuals in the western area who still refuse to leave. I can only say to them that I hope this is not the last time they will hear my voice and may God be with them.
“The Marsh Harbour area of Abaco, parts of it is already underwater and some areas you cannot tell the difference between the beginning of the street and where ocean begins and they have not been hit by the brunt of the storm.
"Those (in) Abaco at this point in time, cannot move anymore. They are now in for the long haul."
Dr Minnis also called for political unity, telling Bahamians it was not time for red or yellow flags but to work together as Bahamians.