TREASURE CAY, Abaco – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that the government is offering flights to New Providence for Abaco residents free of charge.
Moments after arriving at the Treasure Cay International Airport, the prime minister addressed a crowd of evacuees.
“Bahamasair will be moving in and out to move you back to Nassau,” he told them.
“There will be no charge. Government will move you back and forth. We will have accommodation. We’re arranging accommodation for you so that you can be placed.
“The minister of education is also organizing the schools for the children so that we can have their education continuous, but just be patient with us. We’re trying to do our best and move you all out as quick as possible.”
The prime minister’s arrival reassured some of the evacuees but did seemingly nothing for others.
“I’m frustrated,” one man shouted as the prime minister greeted a crowd on the runway.
“I can’t handle this anymore!”
The airport was once a gateway to one of the most scenic touristic hubs of the northern Bahamas.
However, now, its fragile, wooden remains act as a portal away from the decimation of the Abacos.
Scores of residents – most of whom have survived the terror of Hurricane Dorian – crowded the perimeter of the airport.
“It’s a matter of when,” one woman cried. “It’s a matter of when, Lord. We’ve had enough.”
Many of those storm victims had trekked miles from Marsh Harbour and other parts of Abaco to the airport with the hope of a quick evacuation from the island.
It was significantly less crowded and chaotic than the Marsh Harbour International Airport, where more than 200 people baked in the sun, pleading to be transported to New Providence.
At the Treasure Cay airport, one woman, who had been at the airport for three days, said she had spent $155 to get off the island.
“We been trying to get out for three days now,” she said.
She added, “We have to buy our own plane ticket to get off from Abaco. We had to book them online to get off Abaco. They’re charging us $155 one-way. There’s no service. It’s chaos.”
Churton Toote, a resident of Dundas Town, was one of the evacuees who wished to leave Abaco yesterday.
“People slept out here with babies, man,” Toote said.
“It’s sad. Something has to be done urgently.”
Matthew Taylor, another resident of Dundas Town, shared similar views.
He had been at the airport since Thursday.
“It’s not been a good experience because it’s not organized,” he said.
“What we experienced was that the response was too slow… The first 48 hours was calm, things should’ve happened and nothing really happened. We were talking with the minister before that and he can’t make decisions. You can’t have people on the ground that cannot make decisions.
“It’s unlivable. After the water is gone, what do you do? You know, you have bodies contaminating the water and stuff like that, so the water is undrinkable. That’s where the panic is now.”
In Treasure Cay, a young boy dragged an oversized black suitcase, trying to keep up with his mother who was carrying a heavy load of bags.
In the distance, a woman argued with a member of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
“I can’t be straight and my children ain’t safe!” she roared.
It was clear that the agonizing loss of life and property had pushed some of the survivors to abandon the place they once called home.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice