An administration out of touch
A recent statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as we referenced yesterday, which declared that a “semblance of normalcy” has returned to The Bahamas since the passage of Hurricane Dorian, is the latest in examples that suggest the current administration is out of touch with the scope of this disaster and with realities on the ground in Abaco and Grand Bahama.
That the minister of foreign affairs is one of Abaco’s representatives makes the statement by his ministry especially striking, as he is certainly aware that conditions in Abaco are not near a transition to normalcy.
Yesterday, a representative of an international NGO as well as a Florida-based photographer on the ground in Abaco, went on record as slamming the government for what they said is a lack of critical emergency support that threatens the safety of residents and NGO groups alike.
Their sentiments posted to social media are echoes of mounting concerns expressed by Abaco residents that their government has abandoned them, and that basic needs in the aftermath of Dorian are being met almost entirely by international aid groups.
With unknown numbers missing and presumed dead on Abaco, many hundreds homeless and unemployed, rife fears for personal safety and communities that today still look very much like a war zone into the ninth week since Dorian’s passage, a declaration of normalcy is almost unconscionable.
Shortly after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, the prime minister’s declaration that Freeport suffered “minimal damage” set the pace for what would seem a pattern of inexplicable disconnectedness from the tragedy that was unfolding.
Many of the deaths on Grand Bahama occurred in Freeport, with thousands of homes and buildings damaged or destroyed including the island’s airport and hospital, rending hundreds homeless and unemployed and putting the island’s already strained economy on life support.
Their current state resembles anything but normalcy.
A focus on the statements of government ministers in the aftermath of Dorian’s destruction is hardly an exercise in red-herrings, as their declarations made to the nation and the world raise legitimate concerns about the quality of government focus on this tragedy and the intentions behind current policies.
What does it tell us about the quality of focus when as much as 70 percent of Grand Bahama was underwater due to storm surge flooding with private citizens conducting daring rescue missions that saved the life of one of the prime minister’s own Cabinet ministers in Freeport, yet the nation’s leader stated the position that damage to the island’s most populated sector was minimal?
What does it tell us about the intention behind the government’s reversal of its deportation policy in the aftermath of Dorian when in an effort to defend its decision against condemnation from the United Nations, a ministry of the government declares to the world a state of recovery that does not correspond with ever-present conditions on the islands ravaged by Dorian?
Though our islands are separated by water, the rest of the country is not separated from Abaco and Grand Bahama’s plight, as devastation for the country’s two largest economic centers outside of New Providence necessarily equates to fallout nationwide.
The Bahamas cannot return to a state of normalcy unless Abaco and Grand Bahama make tangible progress toward such a state.
Only an administration out of touch would suggest otherwise.