Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019
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Hurricane claims ‘false’

An investigation into the relief exercise in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene revealed that at least 50 percent of the assesment claims from the damaged homes in Central Eleuthera were false, according to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Captain Stephen Russell.

“Several weeks ago the administrator for Central Eleuthera advised that he had concerns with the assessments being conducted in Central Eleuthera,” Russell told The Nassau Guardian yesterday during an interview at the NEMA office in the Churchill Building.

Russell said based on the revelation that false assessments were being done, he told the administrator to suspend the relief program.

He said he got officers from the Defence Force to visit Central Eleuthera to take over conducting assessments.

“Once that was done the young officers took the original assessment list, they went back into those homes and they conducted reassessments.  And there were some discrepancies of up to 50 percent of what was required,” Russell said.

He said the discovery delayed the process for several days.  Since then he said adjustments were made and the relief efforts were continued.

However, Russell added that the relief process is being delayed once again as further funds are needed.

He said he is preparing to make a request to the government for $140,000 for the purchase of relief supplies for several islands, including Eleuthera.

“The government made available to some seven hardware stores in Eleuthera $110,000,” said Russell, adding that five of those stores were given $20,000 each for the purchase of goods.

“All stores reached their quota.  They have exhausted that $20,000 on the five accounts and requests are coming in for additional funds.”

Russell said he visited Eleuthera earlier this week to evaluate the needs of the island.  He added that based on his observations, additional funds are needed.

The $140,000 will cover relief efforts for Grand Bahama, Abaco, Central and South Eleuthera and Long Island.

“I hope to have those funds so the process can continue,” he added.

Last month, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham revealed that just under $300,000 will be spent on repair-related expenses for homes in the MICAL constituency that were damaged during Irene’s passage.

There have been complaints regarding the reported slow pace of relief on some of the islands, but Russell said NEMA is doing the best it can.

“It seems as though two months is a long time; it’s not in comparison to the magnitude of the damage to 11 islands and two cays and it’s a timely process trying to manage it,” he said.

Irene swept through The Bahams in late August.

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