Monday, Nov 12, 2018
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Ragged Island residents feel neglected

Debris from battered homes blocks a road in Duncan Town, Ragged Island following the passage of Hurricane Irma last year.

One year after Hurricane Irma devastated Ragged Island, Craig Maycock said he is “disappointed” in the Minnis administration and its apparent “neglect” for the residents of an island no longer than five miles.

“They say it’s uninhabitable but we are still here,” said Maycock from his home on Ragged Island.

“We are still here. Even if they don’t bring back the nurse or the police, the few here still have to press on.”

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, 2017.

On Tuesday, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Captain Stephen Russell said that Ragged Island is still “uninhabitable”.

He said NEMA cannot lift that status because there is no nurse, doctor, police, school, or other basic institutions on the island.

He said, “…Unless those basic institutions or structures are in place it’s hard for the government to sanction the place liveable.”

Maycock said there are around 40 people on the island and most residents believe the government is dragging its feet.

“My son has to go to school in Nassau,” Maycock added.

“He has been in so many problems at school, I just got a call the other day. School just opened and they already called me and told me he got into a fight because some boys were trying to steal his stuff.

“Sometimes, all I can do is sit down and cry.”

Maycock rode out Irma in his home. He said he has repaired most of his home himself.

He lamented that despite seeking aid, he has received no assistance from the government.

“I’m still struggling,” he said.

As for the government’s charge that it would rebuild the island and turn it into a “green island”, Maycock said, “They are full of promises.

“This island isn’t five miles long. It is not hard to make it green, if you wanted to. They simply just aren’t checking for us.”

Amal Smith agreed with Maycock.

“I still don’t understand it,” Smith said.

“I feel like they want to sweep us under the rug and forget about us.”

Residents currently enjoy a consistent electricity supply, water and sewerage, and telecommunications.

However, the school, clinic, police station and government complex remain in ruins.

Smith said if the government restores those particular services, it would go a long way in returning a sense of normalcy to the island.

But for now, Smith said, “They are treating us like an outside child.”

“Fix the school, the clinic and bring back the police,” Smith said.

NEMA visited Ragged Island last month and conducted assessments on households that needed assistance.

As a result, 18 homes were provided aid and received a maximum of $4,000 per household.

On Monday, Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said the Minnis administration has failed the people of Ragged Island.

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

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