OF all the people in our nation, the ones who need to be reminded least of the importance of taking a storm seriously are the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
It’s not just the devastation that was inflicted on those islands in 2019 when Hurricane Dorian hit, it’s the fact that even now, years later, residents there are still reeling, still rebuilding, still grieving.
Nicole is the name of the new storm, that may or may not reach hurricane status by the time it hits us, but is certainly one to watch, and one to beware of.
Yesterday, government officials were not holding back.
If you are in a low lying area in Grand Bahama and Abaco, get out. If you are in a compromised structure, get out.
Churches are checking on vulnerable individuals, and coastal flooding is expected between three and six feet in height.
Yesterday, the chief meteorologist for Northern Bahamas, Shavon Moxey-Bonimy, urged people not to panic, but warned: “We anticipate storm surge between three to five feet, and in some instances up to four to six feet.”
She added: “If you know that your area is prone to flooding along the coast, if you can, move inland or to a shelter because we do anticipate coastal flooding along the north shore areas. However, any southern shift in the track will result in more coastal flooding as it relates to wave and storm surge for West End.”
Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper – standing in while Philip “Brave” Davis is discussing the effects of climate change on our nation far away in Egypt – warned Grand Bahama and Abaco were poised to take a “direct hit” from the storm.
He said: “We must take the threat of Hurricane Nicole seriously.”
He added: “I cannot stress enough that it is better to make preparations and not need them than to take no precautions and regret it.
“Abaco and Grand Bahama are projected to take a direct hit from Hurricane Nicole. Bimini and Berry Islands are also in the path of the storm. Residents of those islands should take every precaution to secure themselves and their property immediately.”
He also said: “We repeat our requests that you not try to ride out the storm in domes, trailers, makeshift residences or low lying areas as emergency services will be constrained to provide assistance until the all clear is given.”
In today’s Tribune, we publish the list of shelters in the affected islands – and will also publish them online at www.tribune242.com.
First thing first, be safe. We have faced disaster before, and we have suffered heartbreak at the loss it brought. Do everything you can to ensure you come through the storm.
And for those who are able, also check on your neighbours – help them if they need it to get prepared. Offer a ride if you can for those who need one to get to a shelter.
Prepare your hurricane kits. Put your essential documents in a waterproof container you can easily take with you.
We hope Nicole will not be a storm whose name we remember with horror, the way we do with Dorian. But we should prepare for it as if we face the worst.