MEMBERS of the Cabinet led by Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper visited and assessed Marsh
Harbour government dock, the government complex, Central Abaco High School, and Friendship
Tabernacle Church yesterday. Photo: Anthon Thompson/BIS
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
ACTING Prime Minister Chester Cooper says Abaco fared well with no significant infrastructure damage or serious injuries in the aftermath of Nicole.
The day after the storm followed the same path as Hurricane Dorian three years ago, Mr Cooper, along with government officials and the official opposition assessed the island.
However, with the passage of Nicole, Mr Cooper, said it was evident that there has not been enough investment in infrastructure since 2019’s Dorian.
He also noted that there had been some flooding at the Abaco port and Leonard M Thompson International Airport, but this was expected due to the rainfall and sea swells associated with Nicole.
“I am delighted to see that we have been protected and from the looks of the areas that we inspected it seems that we fared quite well,” Mr Cooper told reporters yesterday at Abaco.
“So, I think this is a good message that we haven’t been significantly hurt in terms of our infrastructure but the message still is that since Dorian there hasn’t been enough investment in infrastructure and we need to focus on really getting Abaco back to the pre-Dorian levels at a minimum.
“I think from the perspective of the port, Parliamentary Secretary (John) Pinder (III) and (Kirk) Cornish have both pointed out the need to have this gateway restored so that there are facilities for employees to work from, that there is a proper building for customs and of course there can be some remediation work, some engineering, really when there is high tide or some surges really to protect the platforms that your have there.
“We understand there was some flooding there at the port. The waters came over maybe about a foot, foot and a half, and these are the kinds of things that now we see have happened during this particular storm.”
“No loss of life, no serious injuries, we fared well. God is good,” Mr Cooper also said.
Mr Cooper stressed that the country remained open for visitors, adding he did not anticipate any fall off in tourism.
“Tourism is strong. Tourism will continue to be strong. We know that many of the tourists did not leave. They made a calculation that this is just a tropical storm or cat one and they stayed. God bless them. It’s worked out well for them and for tourism.
“We are posting very very strong numbers for tourism. I suspect that this year we are going to meet or exceed 2019 levels. The stop over numbers in particular look really good. The message to the world is that Nicole has passed and we’re open for business and this is the message that we have sent during our missions.”
Asked whether the government would extend the Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ) order for Abaco, Mr Cooper said Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Philip Davis would speak to the matter, adding that officials were considering exigency orders for those affected.
“What I do know is that they are looking at it at the moment.
“There will be some exigency orders made - whether it’s in the form of the existing SERZ or whether it’s adjusted. We are sensitive to the needs of both Abaco and Grand Bahama but we want the adjustments to be very measured.
“So, the Ministry of Finance is looking at it and no doubt over the coming days they will be able to make some announcements in that regard.”