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Editorial: Crime Leaving Residents Still Feeling Aftermath Of Hurricane

IN the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, crime was a major concern for residents of Abaco. There were fears over looting, fears over inadequate policing with officers not going out at night with no power meaning no lights on the streets.

It is disheartening to say the least to discover that residents are still having problems with burglaries and a lack of police response all these months on.

It is nearly 11 months since Hurricane Dorian passed – yet to hear the residents of Elbow Cay, you would think we were still in the throes of its immediate aftermath.

Homeowners are finding themselves the victims of burglaries – generators taken, and other expensive items – and when they try to report it, there’s no one there.

“We have no one to report it to,” said the manager of Elbow Cay Properties, Hilary Thompson, who oversees 60 properties. “There’s just no presence on the island. Normally you’ll file a police report and they would come and check it out, we just don’t have any of that.”

Chief Superintendent Wendell Smith disagrees, saying complaints from residents are dealt with in a timely manner – but that’s not the experience of residents.

One of the problems may be that officers are being sent to the area on a rotation basis rather than having officers who know and are based in the area over a period of time, someone who residents can recognise and know who to approach.

Whatever the source of the problem, residents are feeling out in the cold – and they’ve been there for far too long.

Another resident pointed out that the area has a huge second home market – which contributes a lot to the local economy. If owners feel their homes are not secure, they may just pack up and go elsewhere. That’s goodbye to that economic contribution.

Chief Supt Smith could perhaps be a bit more pro-active. Perhaps he could go and meet these residents for themselves, and ensure that their concerns are heard – and addressed.

The survivors of Hurricane Dorian have had quite enough to put up with – let’s not leave them abandoned any longer.

When the price isn’t right

The insurance industry is, it appears, at a crossroads. Hurricane Dorian has put sharply into focus the problems with large swathes of properties completely uninsured and the remainder bearing the cost in premiums for reconstruction.

We all know how the insurance business works – you spread the risk across a wide number of customers to keep the premiums affordable. But in Dorian, half of the properties were uninsured, and the rest? Well, as Tom Duff says in Tribune Business today, you can’t keep on jacking up the rates of those who are insured. The higher the rates go, the fewer that can afford them, and the fewer that can afford them, well… up the rates go again.

It’s a conundrum for the industry, and COVID-19 has been the hammer blow on top. Mr Duff says the industry has to get creative – we shall see just how easy that is to manage. We suspect it’ll be a tough challenge indeed.

One thing for sure, as we look at the prospect of another tropical storm this weekend, hurricane season isn’t going away. The government cannot afford to bail everyone out every time there is a major storm. We already saw the small size of payouts for uninsured houses from the government compared to the cost to rebuild.

We face a tough time economically ahead, with the shrinkage of the economy due to COVID-19 bringing tourism to a juddering halt. But if the insurance industry does manage to be creative, and can offer ways to help – remember that we all need a safety net from time to time.

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