By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
EAST Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest strongly appealed to the government to speed up the process of declaring missing Hurricane Dorian victims dead and also to assist many who continue to live in tents that are not suitable for long-term dwelling.
As he wrapped up debate on the mid-year budget in the House of Assembly last night, the former finance minister urged the Minnis administration to “provide leadership” and address the issues.
He also said he understands there are about 40 domes sitting in a trailer in his constituency and questioned the hold up in getting them to those who need them.
Hurricane Dorian struck The Bahamas on September 1, 2019, as a Category 5 storm, killing more than 70 people in portions of Grand Bahama and Abaco. Many more are listed as missing.
“These communities, Mr Speaker, despite efforts of the government will never be the same,” Mr Turnquest said. “Mr Speaker, the experience of Dorian for those who lived it and continue to live it each day has been traumatic and heartbreaking.
“Families continue to grieve for loved ones particularly those still unclaimed or lost and presumed dead by family members not being able to have closure has been especially difficult.
“I call upon the government to deliver on its commitment to those families to speed up the process of declaring the missing dead, so their families can get past this and bring closure, access the life insurance process to help sustain themselves, take possession of property and assets and otherwise handle their affairs.”
He continued: “Mr Speaker we all know what happened that day and every day we delay that process we are adding insult to injury and this don’t take no special powers. I am advised that the Coroner’s Court can do it. Taking the advice of my colleagues, the Coroner’s Court can do it but the Magistrate’s Court can do it quicker. They can do the inquest quicker.
“Let’s do this.”
Mr Turnquest, who resigned his post as minister of finance amid controversy last November, said he couldn’t talk about the issues previously, but now that he is no longer in Cabinet he can address the concerns publicly.
“(The) Golden Isles (MP) was right. Let’s provide leadership and I call on the Attorney General’s Office and Cabinet to please, please on behalf of those Bahamians who are suffering,” he also said.
Regarding living accommodations of survivors, Mr Turnquest said many of them have been living long-term in tents that were not designed for this kind of use.
“Rain come and wet them, sun come and dry them. Hot days have been smoldering…”
These people, he said, continue to cry for help.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis was expected to wrap up last night’s debate, however Mr Turnquest said the nation’s leader asked him to do it instead.