Opposition wants more aggressive approach to hurricane response


Opposition wants more aggressive approach to hurricane response

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

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NASSAU, The Bahamas, (CMC) — The main Opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is calling for a more aggressive approach to the Government's response to the disaster caused by Hurricane Dorian last week, even as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is defending the level of assistance given so far.

PLP leader Phillip Davis, in a weekend statement, said that the Government needed to be more urgent in dealing with the situation in the Abacos and Grand Bahama islands, the two islands hardest hit by the category 5 hurricane when it slammed into the country on September 1.

Prime Minister Dr Hurbert Minnis has, in the past, urged that a non-partisan political approach be adopted as the country responds to the efforts to rebuild following the hurricane that some estimates say caused damage as much as US$7 billion and killed 44 people to date.

“The Progressive Liberal Party remains fully committed to the restoration of the affected communities and will support this national effort by continuing to provide relief, aid and assistance to our distressed brothers and sisters, in addition to being their national voice of advocacy to bring a measure of normalcy to their everyday lives,” Davis said in the statement.

He said he shares the “widely held public view that given the extent and nature of the damage sustained generally, a more urgent, aggressive and substantive intervention by government agencies is desperately needed than has occurred to date.

“The Government must now accelerate its efforts to alleviate widespread and extreme suffering among our people,” he said, adding “it is clear that this storm has devastated these communities and the residents there are in urgent need of relief and very strong support.”

The authorities have also come under criticism from former Attorney General Alfred Sears, who said there has been a collapse of critical functions of the State in the aftermath of the hurricane.

He said that a complete overhaul of the country's disaster preparedness plan is needed.

But NEMA spokesman Carl Smith, noting that thousands of people had been evacuated from the disaster areas, said he was satisfied that the agency and its stakeholders were doing everything they can to move as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

“We are dealing with a disaster and I want to underscore that NEMA is the coordinating agency. We want to impress upon the public that they should channel their desire to provide support to NEMA so that they know what's going on.

“But based on the information that we have and the systems that we have to put in place so that the situation does not deteriorate beyond what it is, we are satisfied that we're doing as best we can.”

Smith said that other partners with expertise were joining the efforts “so you will see an improvement in the situation as we move forward. But as we speak, we are doing the best we can with what we have”.

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