The most recent hurricanes to devastate The Bahamas between 2015 and 2017, cost the country approximately $820 million, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday.
Turnquest made the revelation during the Bahamas National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment (NDPBA) program kick-off ceremony.
The program is a partnership between The Bahamas and the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), centering around disaster risk reduction.
“We are situated in one of the most disaster-prone regions of the world – facing hazards with the potential to cause tremendous human suffering and reverse decades of economic progress,” Turnquest said.
“In low-lying coastal nations like The Bahamas, the threat of hurricanes, storms and flooding, and other natural disasters, is never out of consciousness.
“Actually, our reality is that for six months out of the year, we have to remain alert and prepared for hurricanes, which have increased in intensity and frequency. Hence, resilience is critical and must become a natural way of life in our society.
“We recall that within the past few years alone, The Bahamas has been seriously affected by at least three major hurricanes, namely Joaquin in 2015, Matthew in 2016, Irma in 2017 and to some extent Maria — all Category 4 storms or above.
“Over the past year, our prime minister has sounded the vulnerability of The Bahamas to global warming and climate change, to regional leaders within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and at United Nations.
“The impact of Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew and Irma on The Bahamas has been reported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to cost approximately $820 million.
“Such a significant cost to an economy like The Bahamas is unsustainable. As a result, the government has taken steps to secure funding to deal with the eventuality of disasters.
“It is through proactive partnerships and collaborations such as the U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership that we can learn from our local, regional and international partners in order to position and prepare ourselves more effectively in the inevitable event of a natural disaster.”
Turnquest noted that the program will help to develop future-looking policies, programs, scientific data and geospatial capabilities for The Bahamas and will strengthen the country’s National Disaster Plan.