The air quickly became stifling after the power went off yesterday in the lobby of Pat’s Senior Citizens Home and Day Care Center on Soldier Road.
Deeper in the hallway of the building, a nurse rushed to hook up 76-year-old Eustacy Sturrup to an oxygen tank.
While for many, frequent power outages are a frustrating inconvenience, for some, it is a matter of life and death.
Sturrup, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, belongs to the latter group.
His nurse noted the fact grimly as she worked calmly and quickly to remove him from the electric oxygen concentrator and slip the mask for the oxygen tank over his head.
Sturrup did not appear to be a fan of the mask. He fiddled with it in what the nurse worried was an attempt to remove it. However, he soon relaxed and explained that he had only been adjusting it for comfort.
Over the past week, many Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) customers on New Providence experienced frequent power outages, some lasting hours.
Power cuts continued yesterday, with many areas impacted amid scorching temperatures.
Patricia Moxey, who runs the home, said the situation has been difficult to manage given the health conditions of some of the senior residents.
“While I sympathize with what’s going on at BPL, it has really been a great hazard for us,” she said.
“Thank God we have a couple of small generators that we’ve been using because we do have residents that are on electrical oxygen. Just to have a backup, we had to go and order so many tanks of oxygen.
“Not only that, but our deep freeze and fridge, because of the on and off, have been damaged.”
She added, “So we are losing all around right now. We had to get rid of them. We had meat and stuff that we had to just throw away.
“It is a hazard for us and it’s costing us. I just got through trying to get a generator that’s costing us almost $40,000. We don’t know how it’s going to all work out, but it’s really been causing us quite a bit of hazard.
“You know moving around and moving up and down with the residents and making sure everybody is comfortable, you know, it’s really been terrible for us.”
Currently, there are 34 residents at the home, many of whom sat on a covered porch outside yesterday due to the frequent outages.
“It’s been very, very warm,” she said.
“It’s not been the best for us, but we’re trying to cope, and we’re hoping that things will get better.”
She added, “When [BPL] comes to cut you off, they just cut you off. They don’t sympathize with you, but they want us to sympathize with them, and that’s what we are doing, but it’s costing us financially.”
Agatha Lightbourne, who owns Happy Baby Daycare, said that not even a year into her business, she has realized that a generator is essential.
The daycare, which has 18 children between three months and two years, was filled with cries, as Lightbourne noted that the electricity had already been off for over two hours.
“When you have electricity going off in the middle of the day, right when the sun is the highest, you know you’re going to have a problem,” she said, as she held a baby who was suffering from an eczema flare up due to the heat.
“You’re going to have a hot room, miserable babies, especially those who have skin conditions.
“It’s torturous…they can’t move like they want to move, so they’re confined a little more, and that makes them miserable because they don’t understand what’s going on.
“Even for our caregivers, having to work in the heat and move up and down, it’s a lot for them.”
She added, “We’re working on a generator…we have to take our money and buy a generator.”
BPL has historically struggled to meet the increased demand for electricity on New Providence during the summer months.
While BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey on Monday said that some relief is expected by the end of this week with the installation of rental generation units, he noted that load shedding is possible until much later this year when the installation of a new power plant at Clifton Pier will be complete.
The company announced in March that Finnish technology group Wartsila will install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at a cost of $95 million to increase the generation capacity on New Providence.
The engines arrived last month, but the plant will not be in use until October, according to officials.