Insight: We Don’T Need More Meetings, False Hope And Promises - We Need Leadership, Action And Solutions

The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbour, Abaco in September, 2019.
(AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

The destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen from the air, in Marsh Harbour, Abaco in September, 2019. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)



Life is forced to go on for residents of Abaco, sturuggling in the wake of Dorian’s devastation. But now a new cloud is appearing on their horizon - another hurricane season and no visible plan for their safety from a government some on the island feels has abandoned them.

A long-term resident who was on the island when Dorian struck, said life for Abaconians now is totally different now. He feares another hurricane like Dorian, which sat over the island for two days pelting it with rain and winds with gusts of up to 220 miles per hour, could destroy what remains of the island and leave it uninhabitable.

“I am very disappointed in this government,” the source said. “There are people over here who are going through a lot. They have dead relatives in a container who they can’t bury. It’s a lot. There is no respect shown to us. I’m sure there are human rights organizations who would be livid if they really knew what was happening here in Abaco. It is an ugly place to live at times.

“The only people who are really showing some sort of interest in restoration of this island and its cays are the second home owners and international organizations. I would have loved to see government workers handing out food and helping people. That’s leadership! When people can get in the trenches, boots on the ground and make a difference.”

The resident, passionate about the island he lives on, said he has not once seen Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, Iram Lewis, planning anything on the island in regards to its restoration, even now as Hurricane Season looms..

The Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority is responsible for the management of reconstruction and restoration in areas designated disaster zones. Abaco is one of those areas.

“We have no newspapers here, we have no power here and we have no word from this government as to when we will have these necessities,” the source continued. “We have written to the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority over and over with not one reply. With no form of communication what are we to think? Have we been forgotten?”

The source said it breaks his heart when he looks in the faces of fellow Abaconians and sees nothing but sadness, hopelessness and despair. He said he is not alone in his disappointment in regards to the Government and he thanks God for the Americans and the Jamaicans who came to the aid of residents.

“I’ve seen so much selflessness from around the world,” said the source. “Thank God for the Americans and Jamaicans and all those organizations from around the world who really helped us. Instead of our government assisting us with building supplies to rebuild our homes, they established some dome programme. Although it is shelter, it is in no way rebuilding Abaco. It’s in no way helping someone restore their home.”

According to this Abaconian, what happened to Marsh Harbour is unthinkable. Besides the debris and dead bodies, rebuilding, he said, is a very high mountain to climb. He wants answers as to why an island devastated last September by Dorian is entering Hurricane Season 2020 in the same state.

“I fear the next hurricane,” he said. “I don’t even want to see a 25 mile per hour storm touch down here, much less anything with Dorian’s strength. The thought keeps me up at night and I see why soldiers have those post traumatic events that haunt them. Hurricane Dorian was apocalyptic and we won’t ever forget that. What happened in Marsh Harbour was unbelievable. During the storm I just sat and thought of which way the storm would take my life. It was that bad.”

There are “rumblings” in Abaco of the return of the Abaco Independence Movement. Formed just after Bahamian Independence in 1973, the Movement was designed as a political party whose stated aim was autonomy for the Abaco Islands within a federal Bahamas.

When asked about the Movement, the Abaco source said, “If it is true, I welcome its return. We would be ready for Hurricane Season for sure. At least we will know people are looking out for us and we will have proper leadership. Abaconians are looking for leadership from our government. There is none! This is how revolution starts! People band together for their cause.

“I don’t see any preparedness in Nassau and I don’t see any preparedness here. Don’t tell us to get flashlights and candles. We don’t need that. What we need is Bahamasair to start flying people out of these islands should something be coming our way. We need an army of people from Freeport that are unemployed to be paid to come on Bahamasair to Abaco three times a week to work in Abaco to help their fellow countrymen. We need solutions that will make a difference in a 24-hour, day-to-day timeline.

“We don’t need more meetings and we don’t need false hope and promises. What we need is leadership, action and solutions.”

According to the source, Abaconians are not welcoming to Kay Forbes Smith, the Managing Director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority. He said she does not speak their language and does not know the lay of the land. He also admitted that there was some work being done on homes, but momentum has slowed down because of the coronavirus. With the lockdown every weekend and no outside help, they cannot move forward, he said.

Continuing the source applied more pressure to the government, “I want to be positive, but I also want the government to answer to something. What is the master plan to restore Abaco? For example, put up a large sign in Marsh Harbour and say, ‘power will be up in six months’. That is what we need right now, heartfelt leadership. We need people to roll their sleeves up and say ‘we are here to help’. I don’t want to see another non-profit here from another part of the world. I want to see Bahamian government people in the trenches.

“Just picture you having your back to the wall and a gun to your face. That’s what it feels like. When I see government people driving $30,000 vehicles here and there are 30-year-old Bahamian Abaconian men sleeping in a tent or a broken down house they are squatting in because their own homes are gone, there is something very wrong with that. When I see a government red licence plate and vehicle is left running, so they air condition can be cool while they go do their personal errands, somewhere and I know there are people with no homes, I find that contradiction hard to swallow.”

Communication at any level is what the Abaconians crave from the Bahamas government. The Tribune source said communication pre, during and post Dorian has been absolutely “at zero”.

“What’s going on now is unbelievable,” he concluded, highlighting the fact members of the Haitian community have seized opportunities.

“You have a whole sub-culture going on. Why does a Bahamian woman have to get a business licence and a Haitian woman does not have to? Why is it okay for a group of people to set up a Barber Shop and get money and send it all back to another country? This sub-culture is out of control.

“You have an illegal sub-culture, a non-governing government, you have no electricity, you now have a pandemic on top of all of that and you are 38 days away from the next Hurricane Season. It’s hard to be positive when you do not have a solution to one of those problems I just listed.”

This, the Abaconian source said, is a recipe for disaster.


ISpeakFacts 5 months, 2 weeks ago

“I am very disappointed in this government,” the source said. “There are people over here who are going through a lot. They have dead relatives in a container who they can’t bury. It’s a lot. There is no respect shown to us. I’m sure there are human rights organisations who would be livid if they really knew what was happening here in Abaco. It is an ugly place to live at times.

Where is your heart and compassion PM Minnis? Have you no soul PM Minnis? Its all as clear that Minnis only cares about himself and his cronies, he hasnt done this country any good, Minnis and Sands both as doctors need to be arrested and charged for the crimes against humanity, what sane leader keeps 70+ bodies locked in a trailer for over 8 months?


Hoda 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Trauma complicates things. Unfortunately, i am suspicious of these articles from "the/one abaco source". First of all journalist why "one abaco source" doesng seem.like balanced journalism but intrigue. Secondly, trauma complicates things. Thirdly, i think its delusional to think the haitian or haitian bahamian population doesnt have a role to play in the reconstruction of abaco. . Fourthly, yes you may need an army of men and women, but lets be honest how many persons are willingly rushing over to abaco for an extended perid of time? I dont know. Didnt one of the big resorts indicate they wanted to bring in labour last years...i may be remembering wrong. Fifthly, i see messages all the time concerning abaco on socual media, he talking about newspaper, thia has to be an old man. Sixthly, Free Abaco Movement....please go ahead. GB need money too. To be honest with you i feel like thinga always can be faster, but the damage that was done in abaco and thr logistics it requires, i think some ppl are being a tad bit unreasonable. But, trauma is serious thing.


Hoda 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Abaco and GB have MPs in cabinet...as a grand bahamian welll thats what you get GB you keeping putting in these same men...well youll take shit. If DPM dont feel the need or have the pulll to get you what you need...then if u do the same thing you always do well...also im curious as to why abaconians never seem to have anything to say about their young mp from the south who i always see round cable beach...


Baha10 5 months, 2 weeks ago

After 8 months, it is time to acknowledge that those charged with disaster relief and recovery have failed ... and failed miserably. All must be replaced with people either living, from or with a meaningful connections to Abaco, certainly not Outsiders as so far attempted, which has not only again failed, but created tremendous resentment towards Central Government ... and in the process given renewed life to AIM as perhaps the only realistic way forward.


Hoda 5 months, 2 weeks ago

People are allowed to complain and be frustrated, nonetheless. abaco was not getting rebuilt in 8 months it didnt matter who was in charge. Abaco will not be rebuilt in the next 8 months.


Baha10 5 months, 2 weeks ago

No one is expecting Abaco to be rebuilt in 8 months, indeed not for many years ... however what people are expecting is meaningful progress, which appears very much questionable at best and “a Plan” for the future, which currently appears non-existent, hence the lack of optimism in what the future is for Abaco and in turn, why Abaconians will soon start giving serious thought to taking matters into their own hands.


DDK 5 months, 2 weeks ago

All of the points mentioned are accurate and there are so many more. The Abaconian was far too respectful to a government that has zero respect for Abaco. Nobody was expecting miracles, just maybe a little real help rather than platitudes and missing in action m.p.:s and closed government offices, with few exceptions. The harships the locals are going through are immense while government is only lavishing aid in return for no work on its merry band of civil servants and illegals.


lovingbahamas 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow, the Abaco Independence Movement! Wouldn't all of us that live in Abaco love to have the power to decide our future and have money available to actually help us and local people to care. We need the second homeowners badly. Regretably, the repair from Dorian has slowed to a trickle. We all want to be safe here. But, as someone said, even a Cat 3 could decimate Abaco. It could be years before we get back to normal. The Reconstruction Authority has totally dropped the ball. There is no communication. What are they waiting for to take 2 minutes and extend the Exigency order past June 30? The NGO, charities and great Americans that helped us can't keep going forever. They have their own problems now.


Hoda 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I assume you mean Parliament has to extend...


birdiestrachan 5 months, 2 weeks ago

doc appointed Kay Smith just to get more money out of the Treasury. There were already agencies in place.

What are they going to do with the trailers . if and when they bury the people in them..


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