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Darville: We Need To Build More Hurricane Shelters On High Ground

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Joseph Darville, Humane Society of Grand Bahama President.

BY DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

Human Rights and Environmental activist Joseph Darville says “ample hurricane shelters built on high ground” are needed to avoid the catastrophic deaths that occurred with Huirricane Dorian, warning “we better get prepared” as even stronger storms are forecasted.

“I don’t see any preparation in place in terms of refuge for migrants or even residents of the Bahamas,” said Mr Darville, an executive of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association and chairman of Save the Bays.

“You know if we have another storm similar to Dorian, in light of the tidal surge, we are going to suffer an even more catastrophic situation with deaths and injuries than we did in Dorian,” he warned.

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) has warned The Bahamas is not ready for the 2020 hurricane season, after completing a comprehensive assessment of official and unofficial emergency shelters in Abaco and Grand Bahama found that most were unusable.

The IOM determined that emergency shelter capacity is one major weakness, and “found that currently 13 of the 25 official shelters are usable, providing capacity for just over 1,500 people, or two percent of the population of Abaco and Grand Bahama.”

The organisation also cited that “many of the shelters on both islands are built in vulnerable locations.”

Mr Darville – who agrees with the IOM - said: “At this particular point in time there should be ample shelters constructed on high ground.”

“I have been reiterating this every time I go on radio and television the fact that we must prepare and make sure there are hurricane proof up to category five plus shelters built on high ground to make sure we evacuate all persons in low-lying areas. And to this particular date in time, unless it is unseen or unless it is something invisible, I cannot see any progress in that particular regard. And I think that’s probably what IOM is reflecting on,” he said. “And I would at this particular point in time agree with them that there is visibly no strategic plan in place for the protection of our people against a Category Five or stronger hurricane.”

When contacted, Iram Lewis, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Reconstruction, said government was structuring its Hurricane Preparedness Plan, based on needs assessments and bearing the effects of Hurricane Dorian in mind.

“We must now adjust due to COVID-19 protocols. As soon as completed, we will advise the media and general public of the intended roll-out,” he said.

Mr Darville believes that regardless of Dorian and COVID-19, the government should have made sure there are plans put in place. “I have forgiven government on many issues, one to do with the oil spillage in East End of some 558,000 barrels of oil that were spilled in the ground and in the forest, and literally nothing has been done on the part of our government in order to alleviate the damage done from that or to make sure that this thing is cleaned up.”

“They started to clean up; they had six months to clean up, but now again in that situation, we are on the doorstep for another hurricane season and they had to suspend the cleaning, and they had one percent done and they supposed to have six months to clean so we going straight into another hurricane season. So, I excused that situation and Dorian, and generally on the basis of the preoccupation of the COVID-19.

“But the fact is there should be enough strategies within the government to make sure there are plans put in place irrespective of Dorian and irrespective of COVID-19 for the protection of our people,” he stressed.

“And how that is going happen? The government is supposed to have the resources and the wherewithal and manpower in order to orchestrate this.

“Now, I have a lot of regard and respect for Iram Lewis who is in charge of that particular area, but I am not sure he has been given the resources and the manpower to construct expeditiously the type of shelters we need on high ground,” said Mr Darville.

“Right now, like the Chinese, you could build and elevate buildings in 10 or 15 days if you get the right amount of instruments and people involved.

And so, I would say that of course, I give the government leeway because of Dorian and because of COVID-19, but the fact is we are on the doorstep of another hurricane season and they are forecast to be as strong as or even stronger, so we better get prepared,” he said.

Comments

John 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Don’t let the Corona Pandemic distract from the hurricane season and you as an individual , or a family or as this nation be caught unprepared

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moncurcool 4 months, 2 weeks ago

These self proclaimed environmentalist activists like to spout off at the mouth about what should and should not be done, but yet I don't ever see them bringing any money to the table to get it done. I guess they figure the government could just pull money off a tree now.

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ISpeakFacts 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Porcupine 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This issue alone, illustrates a country's collective seriousness. There should be a uniform nationwide chorus of demanding that these shelters are built. Don't blame environmentalists for not bringing money. They are bringing ideas and staying on point. Do we not value teachers? That's what they do too, right? Do we demand teachers bring money to the table? How could we if we don't pay them enough to even support their family? Get real moncur. The problem is that those with the money have only been thinking about money and just don't seem to give a shit about anyone else. How does this reality escape a thinking Christian? What forseeable issue in The Bahamas can we claim that we have been "prepared" for? We don't even prepare for a hurricane until it is on our doorstep. We don't plan ahead as a people. I don't know Darville. But, he is right and should be listened to.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months, 2 weeks ago

It was Joe Darville, Hubert Minnis and Carl Bethel who long ago let Equinor/Statoil off the hook for the very serious environmental damage caused by the major oil spill attributable to fundamental design flaws in their oil storage bunkers in Grand Bahama.

Has our supreme ruler ordered that Equinor/Statoil keep all of their Grand Bahama oil storage bunkers empty during this coming hurricane season. That order should immediately be given if our government has not yet been able to satisfy itself that the fundamental design flaws have been propery addressed resulting in the bunkers being appropriately re-fortified to withstand the forces of a slow-moving major category 5+ hurricane?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months, 2 weeks ago

P.S.: Apologies for neglecting to also name our minister of environment who did manage to find the goat and two birds in the aftermath of the major oil spill.

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bogart 4 months, 2 weeks ago

It is not jus building Hurricane Shelters on high land. This whichin sounds like one crew jus to give crontacts to cronies for not effective purpose. To look at Hurricane Shelters the engineer will look at topography may and other necessary planners. The terrain is analysed so that the flooding of the area does not create the hilltop or later stranded Cay cut off from help for extended unreachable help. They can look at elevating roadways embankments, airport access, hospital access etc, dams excavating areas to funnel, contain, redirect water etcetc and areas to have Shelter that which can have large population to access. High areas now is now affected by channels underwater created last hurricane, dead coral reefs, present abandoned land structures, curtailed construction, placement of new etcetc. Just building on high land seems good but the entire survival of entire island with limited resources needs to go with " in depth" analysis. Nation has already plagued by construction projects design flaws from 2-3 or more cost overruns including half a mountain chapped down in Eleuthera, money spent for white elephant designet Clinic in Cat Island, one Baseball Stadium for some $20 million going on some $50 million, new contractor for seawalls in GB.... etcetcetc

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The_Oracle 4 months, 2 weeks ago

We have many needs, Hurricane shelter, but also potable water in homes over the hill. Don't forget the need for swabbs. and for Food assistance. And the resolution of the bodies in Abaco. And Housing. Decent hospitals. and a Plan. Accountability. Herein lies the problem of self determination, authority without responsibility. We need a bigger prison too. We have many many needs, none seemingly too difficult, but apparently all beyond the reach of the Bahamas for 50 years.

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Perhaps Mr. Darville should tell the authorities where the high ground is in Grand Bahama.

Where is the High Ground Mr.: Darville??

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