HOW seriously is the government taking the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian?
We ask the question in light of National Security Minister Marvin Dames’ comments yesterday on the difference between the numbers of missing people.
On Sunday, Mr Dames said 279 people were missing following the storm that ripped through Abaco and Grand Bahama. Three weeks ago, Assistant Commissioner of Police Solomon Cash said 33 people were still missing.
That is of course a significant and sizeable difference. The Tribune tried to get an answer on why there were different numbers.
Yesterday, Mr Dames said he didn’t know the reason for the difference. In keeping the Bahamian people informed, that seems like the kind of thing that would be important to know.
“All of these numbers are now in the hands of the police. Let’s not get fixated on this,” he went on, “and I think sometimes we get caught in a position where we say ‘oh something is amiss, what is amiss?’”
What appears to be amiss is that somewhere the lives of 246 people are being discounted. That’s the difference in the two numbers, each one of them a life, each one a father or a mother, a brother or a sister, a child or a cousin.
Mr Dames went on to say that the communication infrastructure had been destroyed after Dorian, saying “the police are still in the throes of trying to get all this information that was out there in the hands of different individuals and agencies into one centralised repository”.
Hurricane Dorian hit in September, and the information gathered since its impact will have been recorded on communications networks that were not destroyed in the storm.
As for one centralised repository, the police and their respective minister don’t even seem to have the same numbers.
If anything, Mr Dames’ explanation about information in the hands of different bodies only reinforces former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands’ criticism that too many agencies were involved in dealing with the Dorian missing.
All these months on, we should have a fairly clear picture of the human toll of Hurricane Dorian. We do not underestimate the impact of Dorian, which has scarred the landscape and psyche of the nation. However, the lack of co-ordination in compiling information about that impact is a failure of policy, not a failure of the broken infrastructure left in the storm’s wake.
If we pretend that everything is fine, then we will never learn to do things better. We’re already into the new hurricane season. Have lessons been learned? With the minister and the police giving different numbers, it doesn’t appear so.
Mr Dames concluded by saying that those working on the information “have been doing a fantastic job”. What do you say, readers? Is this what a fantastic job looks like?
Good news for conch
We have some good news and, alas, worry it might lead to some bad news.
First, the good news. Conch is thriving at Cay Sal Bank in The Bahamas.
The discovery comes thanks to a research team from the University of Texas and comes at a time when there has been concern over a reduction in conch stocks in the region from overfishing.
Scientists found the Cay Sal population was “one of the three highest abundances of queen conch” in the Caribbean.
Splendid news… but we hope the bad news won’t be a rush of fishermen bound for the location near Cuba to harvest the population.
It would be terrible if we discovered the key to replenishing conch stocks elsewhere in The Bahamas only to ruin it with a rush of fishing.
A spot of legislation, please, to protect the conch’s future – along with our own.