‘Hurricane will dent Abaco, but not stop recovery’

Conditions in Abaco


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE president of Abaco’s Chamber of Commerce said the damage from Nicole will put a dent but not be a setback to the island’s hurricane recovery.

Nicole, which hit Abaco as a tropical storm before strengthening into a hurricane over Grand Bahama yesterday, came three years after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, which both islands are still trying to recover from.

Daphne Degregory-Miaoulis told The Tribune yesterday afternoon that the flooding will have a negative effect on businesses on the island, especially for people who had just refurbished structures damaged by Dorian to now have to find resources to fix them again.

“Yes, some of them have been affected (businesses in the Chamber of Commerce) and you know when you have saltwater flooding it means removal of sheetrock. It means replacement of furnishings. It means that there could be electrical damage.

“You know, unfortunately, our buildings are not constructed with hurricanes in mind and so electrical outlets are way too low to really avoid being affected by floods. I know in Marsh Harbor, the ECC school that has been completely rebuilt by NGOs, the flooding in Marsh Harbour extends all the way to their school, which is like two streets back from the shoreline,” she said.

“It’s significant, although their buildings, I think most of them are off ground. So hopefully, flooding hasn’t gotten into the buildings, but it’s significant for many businesses—new buildings obviously have been built up high enough, but existing buildings that were refurbished that are still you know, below flood levels, are gonna have to be refurbished all over again with what resources? They’ve exhausted their resources.”

She spoke with this newspaper while the storm was still bearing down on the island.

Asked to estimate the damage the storm has brought to businesses, she compared the impact the storm had on New Providence, despite the island not being in its direct path.

“The worst part of the storm hasn’t passed yet. I mean, look at New Providence. You can’t even travel on West Bay Street and you don’t have the hurricane. So just magnify that by three or four times and then you’ll have a better appreciation for what people in Abaco and Grand Bahama - Grand Bahama east and Grand Bahama I think people still living in tents.”

Asked if this will set back the economic progression on that island, she answered: “To say set back, of course it’s going to put a dent. But to set back to what it was I would say no because Abaco probably is the most hurricane prepared island in The Bahamas because people who have rebuilt have rebuilt and refurbished with hurricanes in mind.

“So some of the errors of construction in the past may have been corrected or should have been corrected. But I don’t say we’re gonna get back to where we were but certainly there is going to be an economic pain to recover from this just when we were starting to get, you know, into a more lucrative position.”

Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper said on Tuesday that in the aftermath of the storm officials will look at all of the tools available to the government including extension of concessions if that is required.

He gave that answer when asked if Prime Minister Philip Davis planned to extend the Special Economic Recovery Zone deadline to January 1 to accommodate for the delays of imports because of the storm.

Abaco’s Chamber of Commerce president argued it should be a “no-brainer” for an extension.

“There has been significant flooding in all of the settlements especially as well on the cays. People who are just residents who have just now recovered still from Dorian and finally getting their homes back in order, especially their rental properties, their home, their home properties, a lot of people still don’t have their homes rebuilt or refurbished,” Ms Degregory-Miaoulis said.

“And I mean I don’t know what they need to reconsider - it should be an absolute no brainer that the SERZ extension needs to be continued for another three years. …People don’t have disposable cash that they can just go out and buy what they need. They’ve got to buy it as they can afford it and that just is not going to happen overnight. So if they don’t extend the SERZ order beyond December 1 in full as it was originally implemented then I say shame on the government.”

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