Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson. File Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE official death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 58, according to Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson.
He said 49 people have been declared dead in Abaco and nine have been declared dead in Grand Bahama.
During his address to the United Nations last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis noted that with more than 600 people still declared missing after the storm, the death toll is expected to rise significantly.
Officials yesterday were not able to say whether there has been a decline in the number of people reported missing.
Bahamas Power and Light, meanwhile, announced that electricity has been restored to two communities in Abaco over the weekend, the first two to receive power.
Electricity was restored to the South Abaco communities of Winding Bay and Casuarina Point.
“These are the first two communities to be returned to power with the use of the 1.8 megawatt generator shipped to Abaco from Exuma early last week,” BPL said in a statement. “BPL employees on Moore’s Island were able to bring that community back on shortly after the storm had passed. The main overhead transmission line is powered up, and the team is now continuing restoration in the south with some challenges along the way. We are bringing the communities of the south on as soon after as possible.”
BPL said its main substations in Marsh Harbour sustained major damage, prompting the need for a temporary substation site. Equipment for the site is being prepped for transport from New Providence to Abaco and it is hoped that when connected, power will be distributed to critical infrastructure in Abaco: the government complex, the air and sea port, the Water and Sewerage Corporation plant and the clinic.
Algernon Cargill, one of the government’s hurricane relief coordinators for Abaco, said yesterday that the government complex is currently being powered by generators fixed by the Dutch military.
“We are seeking to provide full functionality to the government complex in Marsh Harbour,” he said. “That’s a hub for most activities. Our focus is to bring back the essential services and most of those are centred around the government complex where all the government offices are. In addition, we were very successful in having the petroleum companies reopen their presence in Abaco. We have fuel for sale, we’re providing water to the essential buildings which is abnormal now, the airport is fully functional and the government complex is fully powered up so after we have the essential services restored in Abaco, we’ll start the clean-up phase and that will be managed by the Ministry of Works and Ministry for Disaster Preparedness. We’ve stabilised on the ground in Abaco.
“The government complex was cleaned by the Dutch military,” he added. “We’re gonna have it sanitised again. The quicker we can create the feeling of normalcy, that’s going to spill over. The grounds of the complex were fully cleared by the Jamaican military who have been a great help to the Bahamas. I want to recognise the excellent contribution by them, they’ve cleaned the airport grounds also, moving all the trees, so you can hardly notice from the grounds of the airport that there was a hurricane.”
Yesterday, the Progressive Liberal Party criticised the government’s response to the hurricane, claiming that the people of Moore’s Island feel abandoned by the government and that the Sandy Point water system failed when its generator malfunctioned.
“The people in the Abaco cays complain that the security situation is deteriorating there,” PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell said in a statement. “There is little indication of a government presence. There are reports of marauding gangs, occupying people’s homes and vandalising and stealing private property throughout the island of Abaco. There is no indication of a government presence in the Abaco Cays. They are crediting the Americans with what aid has reached them. Their main concern now is security and the safety of their person and property.”