THE signing of the heads of agreement for the new cruise port would have been a landmark moment for Grand Bahama regardless. In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, it’s more than that – it’s a lifeline.
The ceremony was filled with much talk about opportunities, and what the port would bring to The Bahamas, and specifically Grand Bahama, but what it does most of all is point the way to what really will bring about a recovery for our country after the storm getting back to being open for business.
That not only sounds difficult – it truly is difficult especially for those who have been displaced by the storm.
On the ground, things seem far worse than in the photographs that we have all seen by now. Add to the photographs of devastation the smell that permeates the hurricane-hit islands, and the desperation that those still there face as they try to get what they need to survive even before they can think about getting what they need to rebuild.
Looking at the piles of rubble that used to be houses, it’s hard to know where to even begin the clean-up operation.
But what will start the ball rolling is getting back to work. Work that puts money in people’s pockets so they can then pay for reconstruction. For food. For school. For all the things that make up our lives.
We fully understand why the Ministry of Tourism suspended its advertising campaigns in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but we hope they will relaunch those soon – announcing to the world that The Bahamas, as most of it has been all along, is open and welcoming to tourists.
The cruise port itself will bring jobs and opportunities. It will bring people back to a part of our country blasted by Hurricane Dorian. It will give communities a reason to go on.
There are impressive figures to go with it – that it will be the largest Carnival cruise port in the world, and that it will boost the place of The Bahamas as a cruise destination.
We would like to applaud Carnival’s senior vice-president, who said simply: “Storms should never stand in the way of a good heads of agreement, so here we are today.”
Here we are – at the beginning of a long road to recovery, but with positive news that reinvigorates our belief that these communities can be rebuilt.
As we do so, may we remember the spirit of togetherness that the hurricane response has brought – with all the volunteers, all the donors, all those reaching out to help those displaced. Even when the rubble is gone and the country rebuilt, many of the storm’s survivors will still bear scars, some of them invisible. They will continue to need our help.
It can feel callous to talk about business opportunities and the economy when so many people still do not know what has happened to family and friends.
People may feel angered by the push to get back to normal when their lives may never be normal again. But that’s how we begin again, that’s how The Bahamas rises. That’s how we lift up our heads, Bahamaland.