Commonwealth Bank will be the first bank to operate on Abaco since Hurricane Dorian ravaged the island and could open at the beginning of November, Abaco Chamber of Commerce Director Krista Albury said yesterday, adding that 90 percent of the businesses on the island have been “completely destroyed”.
Albury, speaking at a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) press conference, explained that many Abaco business owners were reluctant to reopen their businesses because of the state of the island, the security on the island and the inability to safely bring goods into Abaco’s port.
She added that some businesses have also been suffering insurance woes.
“Those businesses that did not suffer damages as badly after Dorian were faced with further challenges due to the violence that happened immediately after Dorian, which severely hampered their ability to reopen in a timely manner,” Albury said.
“Many businesses are now faced with challenges when it comes to insurance claims. They are either underinsured, uninsured, or depending on the type of damage to their business and inventory, were no longer covered anymore.
“Our port at this point is currently unsecured, so we are running into issues with having international shipments come into Abaco. When the port is able to be secured, which we hope will be by the end of this week, we will once again be able to receive international shipments into Abaco.
“When shipments come in there is a mad dash with no way to be able to make sure that the goods and freight are going to who they were intended for.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest, who was also at the press conference, assured Albury that more law enforcement will be placed on Abaco to assist with security concerns.
Albury contended that once the island’s largest food store Maxwell’s reopens with the bank inside, “it will be the first time money will mean something again on Abaco”.
Albury put out a plea for all Abaconians to return home to help the island to rebuild.
“Come home, we are rebuilding. It’s going to be bigger and better than it ever has been before and we need each and every one of you to come home to help us do this. We cannot do this without the Abaconians who have left.”
She added that the rebuild effort could be hampered by the fact that the island does not have accommodations or food and water to go around. She suggested that anyone coming to assist must be self-sufficient.
“Although intentions are good with wanting to come to Abaco and assist with the rebuild efforts, we strongly urge everyone to be self-sufficient when you come to Abaco, as what we have is only enough for those who rode out the storm and are already there,” said Albury.