As of yesterday morning, there were 4,800 evacuees in New Providence from Abaco and Grand Bahama, according to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Spokesperson Carl Smith.
NEMA indicated that at 8 a.m. yesterday 1,157 people were in shelters across New Providence, and the combined capacity for those shelters was 1,202 people.
Smith said 716 people were at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium; 202 were at the Fox Hill Community Centre; 94 were at the Calvary Haitian Baptist Church; 27 at the Salvation Army; 70 at the Pilgrim Baptist Church and 29 at the Grants Town Seventh Day Adventist.
The Guardian understands there were approximately 1,200 people at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium yesterday afternoon after more people arrived at the shelter.
Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Committee Chairman John Michael Clarke said that there are plans to house 4,000 people in temporary housing in Marsh Harbour.
“We will put up two relief areas in Marsh Harbour,” he said.
“The areas would be one to the south of Marsh Harbour and one to the north of Marsh Harbour. Those are to get persons back quickly who would want to rebuild their homes right away and then that temporary transition space will be no more.
“As far as how long the shelters will be up in New Providence, what’s happening on the ground is we still have some assessments to do. Those assessments will commence tomorrow, and based on what they find in their assessments, we’ll be able to better determine the timeline of how long that will take.”
Clarke added, “We are right now investigating the best option for the relief centers, because these won’t be there for weeks. These could be there for anywhere between 180 days to 365 days, depending on what we find in our assessments.”
Many have criticized NEMA and the government at large for its perceived slow response to Hurricane Dorian.
Smith said the agency is working to improve its efforts.
“We recognize the need for improvements,” he said.
“NEMA is moving as quickly as possible to resource itself and work with partners to ensure that we provide the best support to those impacted by the storm. We invite the public to look for regular updates on the NEMA Facebook page.”
Smith also addressed reports that on a Baleària Caribbean ferry that was taking impacted Bahamians from Grand Bahama to Florida on Sunday night, people without U.S. visas were asked to leave the ship after having been told previously that visas were not needed.
“NEMA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to advise the public that there are no new arrangements that have been established to facilitate entry of Bahamians into the United States or Canada,” said Smith.
“Bahamians interested in traveling to the United States and Canada should ensure that they have all the usual immigration documents required by those countries for entry.”
He added, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not aware of any new arrangements for any other country.”
“We are aware of an incident reported on a large passenger vessel headed from Grand Bahama to Florida. NEMA has requested that the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs investigate this matter.”
Smith also said NEMA is setting up a satellite office at the National Training Agency for non-governmental organizations.