Thursday, Nov 14, 2019
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Cooper: One year later, govt has failed Ragged Island

Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper asserted yesterday that the Minnis administration has failed the people of Ragged Island, as the island remains gutted from Hurricane Irma after a year of little movement from the government.

Hurricane Irma devastated Ragged Island last September. The storm, which was packing winds up to 185 miles per hour, left no home untouched on the island where Irma landed on September 8.

“This past Friday marked one year since Hurricane Irma hit Ragged Island and irrevocably changed the lives of those who lived there,” said Cooper in a statement.

“One year since this administration promised to rebuild Ragged Island and still no meaningful progress has been made.

“It’s been a year since public buildings were destroyed yet their ruins remain untouched.

“Today, as it was after the storm a year ago, there are no police on Ragged Island, there is no clinic, there is no administration building.

“More than a year later there is no school on Ragged Island; there is no postal service.

“A year has passed and where is the plan for the green city promised by the prime minister?

“Clearly, it remains in his imagination.

“Yet one year later, as three hurricanes roil in the Atlantic in the peak of the season, there are still those who persist, living in the shell of infrastructure despite the prime minster flippantly labelling it uninhabitable.”

After the storm, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis declared the island unlivable, but vowed that it will be rebuilt.

Minnis promised Ragged Island will be a “green city”.

According to government officials, it will cost “tens of millions of dollars” to realize this vision.

Despite being urged to evacuate, some residents opted to stay.

There are reportedly fewer than 60 residents on Ragged Island.

Last month, NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell and team visited the island and carried out an assessment.

As a result of those assessments, 18 households were approved for assistance and received a maximum of $4,000 per household to assist with post Hurricane Irma recovery efforts.

Cooper said yesterday that this aid was just a little too late.

He thanked BTC, Aliv and Bahamas Power and Light for working diligently to restore services to the island in the aftermath of the storm and also offered thanks to the Water and Sewerage Corporation for restoring water services in recent months.

“It was much needed relief and returned some semblance of normalcy to the lives of Ragged Islanders,” he said.

“However, that this administration has failed is not cause for despair.

“Many others have stepped into the breach and helped make life a little more bearable for those in great need.

“Currently, there are two 20-foot freezers we organized headed to the island to support fishermen who are eager to increase their catch.

“This will boost commerce on the island and drive the restoration.

“We are also planning renovations to the Mission House, which will be offered to the government as a temporary nurses’ residence and clinic.

“We are also donating all of the supplies necessary for the renovation of Holy Innocence Anglican Church on Ragged Island.

“The church was instrumental as the main shelter during Irma and continues to be the only suitable location to shelter residents on the island.

“While the government may have failed Ragged Island so far, her residents and descendants should know that I will not, and neither will the Bahamian people.”

Both the government and opposition have rejected an assertion from an official of the Inter-American Development (IDB) Bank that it doesn’t make financial sense to rebuild Ragged Island.

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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