'Let's pray'

'Let's pray'

Bahamian PM appeals for prayers as Dorian death toll climbs to 2O

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 05, 2019

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AT least 20 people are dead and thousands in need of assistance in The Bahamas following the passage of category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which ploughed through Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama, downing power lines and infrastructure.

Authorities expect the death toll to climb.

Bahamian Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, at a press conference held in Grand Bahama last evening, said the monster storm, packed winds that reached 185 mph, and the pounding waves, left generational devastation across Grand Bahama and Great Abaco Island.

“There have been 20 confirmed deaths, most of them on Abaco, and we expect that this number will increase... I ask you to pray for the families and the loved ones of the deceased. So many families have been deeply impacted by this devastation, including those trapped during the storm,” the Bahamian prime minister stated, following an aerial assessment of Grand Bahama yesterday.

“In this time of national crisis, I advise Bahamians and residents to get their information from trusted sources. In the social media age there is so much news that is fake, inaccurate and misleading. Do not allow ourselves to be dismayed by fake news designed to confuse you. As a people, we must stay united in a singular focus during this most difficult time. We are all working together — the Government, the churches, businesses, charities, as well as individuals — to rescue and restore Abaco and Grand Bahama,” he added.

Minnis said just about every Bahamian throughout the Caribbean country has been worried about loved ones on Grand Bahama and Abaco following the catastrophic storm, and as such should not have to also be preoccupied with reports of looting.

“We have all heard the stories about looting and other disturbances. Bahamians are distressed, but anyone who loots and prolongs the suffering of those affected by this tragedy... this is a terrible disregard for the safety and security of others. We will prosecute looters and other lawbreakers to the full extent of the law,” Minnis warned.

“I have mobilised the full resources of the Government for search and rescue missions on both Abaco and Grand Bahama. To reinforce security on these islands, additional police and defence force officers have already been deployed” he added.

Minnis informed that more help is on the way.

“As prime minister, I assure you that no effort will be spared to rescue those still in danger, feeding those who are hungry, and providing shelter for those who are without home. Our response will be day and night, day after day, week after week, month after month, until the lives of our people return to some degree of normalcy,” the country's leader said.

In the same breath, he encouraged those willing to offer assistance to give and volunteer with charities with proven track records. Minnis said this will help to bring hope and advance restoration to those desperately in need.

“In this our hour of need, let us make Joshua chapter 1 verse 9 our prayer. Be strong and be of courage. Do not be frightened, neither dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. The world is praying for us, including Pope Francis. I invite you, each within your own hour, to pray for our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives or who are suffering because of the hurricane in The Bahamas. Let us pray for the dead and for their families. Let us pray for the injured and those in distress. Let us pray for all our first responders. Let us pray for one another...” he said.

Yesterday, Jamaica deployed three specialists to join the rapid needs assessment teams that will be assisting the Government of The Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie said the team left once weather conditions in The Bahamas permitted safe access to the islands.

“After consultations with the Prime Minister [Andrew Holness] and the chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force [Lieutenant General Rocky Meade] we have sent two specialists from the National Environment and Planning Agency. They are marine biologists Gabrielle-Jae Watson and Donavan Sankey. Manager of Safety, Environment and Quality at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica Leon Jarrett is also part of the team to The Bahamas,” McKenzie said in a statement.

He explained that the rapid needs assessment teams organised by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) before the Hurricane Dorian struck would only have started their work on the ground yesterday, especially in Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama, due to the lingering of the weather system.

“Jamaica is one of CDEMA's Sub-Regional Focal Points as part of the Caricom regional response system. We are specifically responsible for the group of countries that includes The Bahamas. Therefore, the natural commitment that we would have as Caribbean siblings is simply more focused and organised, and we are doing and will be doing everything to honour the undertakings given by the Government to help the people of The Bahamas to recover from the experience of unprecedented devastation that Hurricane Dorian imposed on them,” the minister said.

In the meantime, Minnis has said The Bahamas is open for business.


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