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North Andros residents in the dark after BPL fire

By EARYEL BOWLEG

Tribune Staff Reporter

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

NORTH Andros residents scrambled to preserve their goods and cool their bodies after a fire destroyed all generator units at a Bahamas Power and Light station in North Andros yesterday.

Some even rushed to New Providence to purchase generators, fearing long-term electricity woes.

 Residents said power on the island had been unreliable recently but that yesterday’s outage left them bracing for sweltering heat for potentially longer than usual.

 The outage led to the cancellation of the All Andros & Berry Islands Homecoming event, which typically attracts between 10 to 15,000 residents.

 Long-standing ATM problems worsened after the outage, reminding residents of the unique challenges life on a Family Island can bring.

  “People are frantically moving around the island trying to get whatever ice and stuff they can to try and preserve their inventory,” said Darin Bethell, president of the North Andros Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of folks have prepared stuff and had their inventory increased from last week. A lot of orders come in from the US.”

Though BPL CEO Shevonn Cambridge expected power to be restored by yesterday evening or this morning, electricity remained off up to press time.

 The fire at the power station happened around 3am yesterday. In the blaze’s aftermath, videos captured charred machinery and floors covered in ash.

 Mr Cambridge said the cause of the fire is being investigated.

 Although homecoming festivities have been postponed until the end of the month, Mr Bethel said he hopes some events still happen this weekend.

 “Sounds like on the 50th anniversary, we’re gonna have to go back to 1973 this weekend,” he said, comparing life on the island to the aftermath of a hurricane. 

 Residents shared information about generator deals amid uncertainty about when reliable generation would return.

 “People are trying to get monies into Nassau,” Mr Bethel said. “They’ll be using the pilots, the local pilots, sending money with them to take to family and stuff like that to try and get whatever they need to adjust themselves and prepare themselves for how long this may be that we’re going to be completely without power.”

 Raymond Neilly, a resident of Nicholls Town, said some people lost power hours before the fire.

“In my own situation at my house right now, we have a freezer full of things to eat, and we have no idea when the power is going to be restored,” he said. “You don’t have money to be wasting up like this, and one of the things I find frustrating is who is going to answer?

“Who has the word of assurance for us, the people of Northern Andros?”

James Storr said he travelled to Nassau to get a generator after learning about the incident. He estimated he encountered 15 people doing the same thing.

“This is the summertime and people are real hot,” he said. “You find people in the night, they have to go in their cars, start their cars to get cool or cooled down and then probably go in the hot house. Don’t matter how much you open all the windows, it still hot.”

Vanda Rahming said residents are concerned about caring for the elderly because it is so difficult to keep cool.

“We were just closing a meeting in reference to the banking system, the poor banking system here in North Andros,” she added. “So now we’re really crippled because the ATMs are down. Business places, if you don’t have cash, you cannot even go to the shop and purchase because while you have stores, they’re not gonna credit their goods to everyone.”

In a statement yesterday evening, BPL said it would move two units, a 1MW generator and a 500 kW generator, to Andros to address the challenges.

“While the two units alone are unable to meet North Andros’ demand, an additional 1.5MW generator will leave Exuma Wednesday evening and should arrive in North Andros on Thursday morning (July 6, 2023),” BPL’s statement said. “Until this unit arrives and is online, BPL anticipates some load-sharing overnight and into the day on Thursday. However, once the total 3MW is operable, full supply restoration is expected.”

Comments

Sickened 11 months, 3 weeks ago

God works in mysterious ways. 1. This is mandatory practice for hurricane season 2. If a big storm does come... it can't disrupt the electricity supply more than BPL already has.

On a serious note... I really feel for those residents effected. BPL should be loaning out standby generators for this sort of failure.

AnObserver 11 months, 3 weeks ago

What century is it that we are still dependent on Diesel generators?

ExposedU2C 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The corrupt and insatiably greedy Franky Wilson a/k/a Snake and his close-knit group of cronies in government are laughing all the way to bank with the overly generous piece of the financial action they get from BPL's leasing of each and every Aggreko commercial diesel generator at exorbitant rental rates.

realfreethinker 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This new day gov has really fooked up BPL. Yall was doing pretty good until this clown show arrived. Sears is way over his head

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