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Back Home: Husband Describes Trip Back To Nassau With His Wife

Returning nationals and residents arrive in The Bahamas on Friday.

Returning nationals and residents arrive in The Bahamas on Friday.

By FARRAH JOHNSON

fjohnson@tribunemedia.net

Andrew Rolle, 57, and his wife Sherrell Williams-Rolle, 47, are currently in self-quarantine at home after returning to the country during the first phase of the government’s repatriation of Bahamians and residents stuck abroad.

The pair were stranded in Miami, Florida, for two months after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis stopped all international and domestic travel as part of the country’s COVID-19 response.

“My wife had a surgery in February and we went to Miami from then,” Mr Rolle told The Tribune.

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Bahamians are driven from the airport after their arrival back in the country. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

“We flew back to Nassau, but two days after we came back my wife started to experience some difficulties, so I did an emergency flight back to Florida. The doctor who did her surgery wrote a document for her to go straight to the emergency room so when we arrived, my wife went straight to the hospital. That’s when the pandemic hit The Bahamas and they shut the country down so we were stuck there from then to now.”

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Bahamian nationals and residents disembark a repatriation flight from Florida Friday at the Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport, Grand Bahama. (SURGE Media Photo/Tim Aylen)

Mr Rolle said after he and his wife took the mandatory COVID-19 tests, his wife received a message notifying them that they were on the repatriation flight list. Still, he said he believed the process in getting Bahamians home from Florida could have run more smoothly.

“After we took the COVID-19 test (at a medical facility) in Fort Lauderdale, nobody told us nothing,” he said. “Tuesday they were supposed to give us our results, but we never got them. The next day we called them to find out what’s going on (but) they ain’t tell us nothing.

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Buses carrying Bahamian nationals and residents leave the Grand Bahama International Airport Friday in Freeport, Grand Bahama.. (SURGE Media Photo/Tim Aylen)

“We tell them if we get on the flight let us know in advance because we don’t know where we going. You wouldn’t believe my wife got a Whatsapp (message) - not even a phone call or email - saying you guys are on the list to get on the flight and you all have to make your way from Miami to Fort Lauderdale to get on the flight because it’s first come, first serve.”

Speaking about the flight itself, he added: “First thing they do is walk on the plane, take our passports like we is criminals and ain’t tell us nothing and (when we arrived) we weren’t allowed to walk in the airport. They make us walk down the (plane) steps. They had to get four guys to lift my wife downstairs because she had a major surgery and can’t walk like that.”

Mr Rolle also said when they arrived they were told not to use their phones although they were eager to let their families know that they had arrived home safely.

“They took us to the hotel for quarantine,” he furthered. “There I spoke to a doctor, they took my blood pressure and they asked us some questions. They asked me how many persons (lived) in my house, and if we had running water and a stove. I tell them only me and my wife live here and we have all the essential supplies in our house, so the doctor who examined us signed off on this document. The Defence Force officers wasn’t going to let nobody out there unless the doctor have a signature saying they releasing you.”

Nearly 200 Bahamians returned home on Friday after being stuck abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The passengers were boarded onto Majestic Tour buses and taken to the Breezes Hotel. The buses could be seen reversing into the resort’s parking lot, although the left and right side of the driveway to enter the building’s front entrance were barricaded off. Armed officers in camouflage could also be seen monitoring the buses on the premises.

On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health released a statement advising the public that the passengers on the repatriation flight would “proceed immediately to the Government-operated quarantine facility for evaluation”.

“They will remain at the facility until health officials are able to determine if it is safe for them to leave,” the statement read. “To this end, members of the public are advised to refrain from visiting the airport to collect family members. In the interest of public safety, visitors will not be permitted at the quarantine facility. If family members wish to send packages to their loved ones while they are in quarantine, the items should be delivered to the Ministry of Health in Nassau and Grand Bahama, and they will be delivered to recipients at the quarantine facility.”

Comments

stillwaters 2 months ago

Not a thank you from the husband, just complaints......wow

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

ROTFL this what you mean?

"First thing they do is walk on the plane, take our passports like we is criminals and ain’t tell us nothing" lol

In all seriousness, all of these persons are probably beyond grateful that they are back home, but there's a phrase used commonly in managerial training, "people remember how you treat them". So you could have given each of them 1million dollars to compensate them for the pain and suffering of the past 2months separated from family and suffering abuses in foreign lands...they would still remember how you treated them

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DDK 2 months ago

Sounds like they were treated efficiently and compassionately.

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stillwaters 2 months ago

Should have left them there so they could travel in the grand style to which they have become accustomed.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

nope. The govt broke it, they own it. These people had flights home paid for from their own pockets. The govt closed the airport with zero notice. Assuming that was the only option they had they still have to assume responsibility for the fallout.

It's wrong for the officials to take passports with no explanation. That's what human traffickers do, it's a power play. It would have taken nothing from them to take 5 minutes to explain we need to do XYZ, it will take N amount of time and your passports will be returned to you. Just treating people differently would have produced an article with persons praising the govt for treating them like rockstars. What the man described here seems pretty uncaring. No doubt the employees just want get the job done but you leave people feeling rough up.

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Baha10 2 months ago

These Bahamians were given ample warning of border closure and chose to remain wherever unlike the many who got themselves home at their own expense ... now the Country has to incur tax payer expense to repatriate, house and feed, thereby in effect rewarding such irresponsible behavior and in the process expose those that were responsible and have been enduring loss of liberty to the risk of exposure due to their irresponsibility by importing the virus ... and many appear ungrateful?!? In no way is the Govt. to blame for whatever hardship these people have endured, indeed the cost entailed should be divided among their number as Bills Owing and their Names published for all to see with monthly up-dates as to the status of their repayments, so as to deter similar future irresponsibility in the future.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

There was no ample warning of the border closure for the 'have nots'. Just as there was no ample warning or notice of so many other orders by our supreme ruler that resulted in long lines and so much mayhem at food stores, etc.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

they were NOT given any warning. That's bs revisionist history.

I was expecting to pick up someone at the airport 2 days after it closed, on a flight that had already been rebooked twice. So this person was actually already a week longer in Florida than they'd planned to be.

The week before when Trump closed travel to Europe I told them to verify that their flight was still on. Their options were to wait for that date or purchase another ticket at ~200 dollars. Id called the local airport to see if Bahamasir would be running just in case. The govt announced the closure of the airport to non Bahamians and airlines started cancelling flights left right and center. My contact was rebooked 3 times then finally completely stranded after the govt closed the airport to both foreigners and residents. This closure was done with zero notice. In fact the actual notice said passengers enroute, meaning in the air at the time of the no notice, notice, would be allowed to disembark

This narrative that people knew this was happening and what they doing travelling is revisionist history. The world was in uproar when Trump abruptly stopped international travel. Flight schedules were unstable. Then we copycatted. The major difference was Trump gave his people grace, he advised Americans to make it home as quickly as possible before the closure.

So nobody was sitting around waiting for the govt to purchase them a ticket. People had tickets and were trying to get home.

Contrary to your everybody knew assertion, the management of this entire affair has been one panic enducing experience after the next just go back znd reference the number if tines the foodstores got raided as govt told uz to be calm them dropped a bomb. Then they seized intl transfers from private individuals.. Imagine having your own govt strand you in a foreign country nowhere to live and your family cant even send you money.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

And to emphasize how not planned out this was, just the week or 2 weeks before DAguilar and Joy Jibrilu were talking about how the international crisis would benefit the Bahamas as conventions planned for Europe could be redirected here. If you have plans to close the airport, you're discussing at cabinet level and you're warning your citizens of the same why would the Tourusm minister and the Director of Tourism be making public pronouncements about moving international conventions here? The history you're referencing is from bizarro world. In early March COVID was not seen as threatening as it was by the end of March. .

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Hoda 1 month, 4 weeks ago

There was no notice, but i dont think its unfair to ask where you going travelling and its looking like a pandemic. Alternatively, if you away why you should begin to look into heading home.

Some of the story about students being stuck i understand, put my family and friends who where in school in america were home from february/ march i feel, befoe we went into.lockdown. furthermore, things picked up around american spring break, remember the florida beaches issues, they werent in school. Any school of substance was emailing them to take note that some pa demic like signs are stiring up, decide what you doing, classes are online.

Nonethless, i have no issues with your govt beinging ypu home.

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Bonefishpete 2 months ago

Yes but was the plane on time.

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TalRussell 2 months ago

Those redshirts comrades thinking this affair can quickly be swept under the red carpet as a non byelection issue following the humiliating turfing of the health minister out onto the square below come to rest under the monument erected to honour comrade sister Loretta's grandpop's Sir Milo, couldn't be more mistaken...when compared against the backdrop the Homeless being handed what could amount to a death penalty sentence, a sentence considered so harsh that it has not been handed out to the colony's convicted murderers over many years....cries out for the truth to come out about both the elected, politically appointed, or serving as senior government officials, all foreigner passengers, including a former PLP high-profile colourful cabinet minister's linked conduct to the affair is speedily and fully Royal Commission propped into.
At least the now-former crown minister didn't have to endure landing out on a public square normally packed with tourist cameras at the ready be capturing his landing at the feet with Comrade grandpop's Sir Milo looking down at the former redshirts minister's sudden fall from cabinet room of power. You just can't make this affair up. Just, can't. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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ace1 2 months ago

Did not somebody in the government know that Silver Airways was flying empty planes here at least once a week to pick up Americans that were stranded here. It would seem logical to me that Bahamaians could have been on these flights instead of waiting 2 months for them to be rescued.

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TalRussell 2 months ago

However, ma comrade Ace1, whilst Silver Airways were flying empty - the affair hadn't yet been hatched to fly-in a private plane with six bearing gifts swaps foreigner passengers along with their personal luggages. .and the orchestra leader needed to conduct The Affair, Obediah had long faded from 2017 memories PopoulacesOrdinary.
Just can't make this shi# up. Just, couldn't so far in advance of the actual landing. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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CatIslandBoy 2 months ago

It is so easy to play Monday morning Quarterback and tell us what the government could have done right. This Virus did not give us any notice and the government dealt with it quickly and effectively, to the best of their ability, as information became available and updated. Those people who were stranded was unfortunate, but shouldn't blame the government leaders. Blame the Virus

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

One thing that I find regrettable is when the govt makes missteps people keep making excuses for them, they just get there, give them time, we never do this before, why dont you run for office, nobody knew this was coming.

Here's my take on crisis. It's always something that's never happened before or else it would be called piece of cake. The way you react and the soundness of your decisions are a function of either your expert knowledge, your years of experience dealing with other crisis or your years of experience in the given domain and expert guesstimates on the best course of action. We allow neophytes with non of these requirements to use the excuse "never done before" as a badge for incompetence. This sounds harsh, I'm not bashing the govt. I am saying we need better. We need to include the people who know how to handle crisis. I couldn't do it. I'd probably have us back in chains if I was there. We have sensible knowlegeable people in this country use them. You know who saved us from the chaos at the food store? Some random woman from Andros calling the radio station with a suggestion. You telling me they couldn't come up with that? This isn't genius territory. 5 days grace get home

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Baha10 2 months ago

As for “revisionist history”, one need only read the numerous Articles published by this very Paper from the second week of March warning of increasing travel restrictions culminating with BahamasAir’s Notice on 23rd March advising as to when they would stop flying out of the US, so again, there is very little excuse for those who chose not to make their way Home ... who have now had to be repatriated at the expense of ALL ... as if we can afford yet more avoidable expense on top of everything else right now as we struggle to prevent the devaluation of our beloved B$ in what may already be a lost cause.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

I don't know where to begin..."published from the second week in March". So you think these people saw travel getting sticky around the 2nd week in March and decided at that point to jump on a plane to the US to see what they could get? They were already there and trying to get back. I remember clearly when they left and COVID and travel bans was nowhere on the radar. These what the doing outside the country, it's their fault premises are too simplistic for the myriad of reasons persons had to travel

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thephoenix562 1 month, 4 weeks ago

My wife is a travel agent .She was getting calls even at night when the borders had closed from people trying to travel to the USA.

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