Cooper: Nicole had minimal impact

MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco – Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper said yesterday that Abaco and Grand Bahama sustained minimal damage as a result of Tropical Storm Nicole.

“Having gone through Nicole, we recognise that we are a resilient people,” Cooper told reporters during a government assessment of Abaco.

“Our infrastructure is fairly resilient as well. We have been protected for the most part, having not seen serious damage or injuries or fatalities.”

Nicole made landfall on Abaco as a tropical storm and Grand Bahama as a hurricane on Wednesday, causing extensive flooding.

There was partial flooding at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour when The Nassau Guardian visited yesterday.

Pockets of water were visible on other parts of the island but it appeared as though floodwaters had mostly receded.

While damage from Nicole was not apparent, the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian three years ago was still noticeable.

Many buildings were still in states of disrepair. Some homes had no windows while only the foundation remained where other homes once stood.

Cooper said Abaco is in need of infrastructural upgrades.

He said there hasn’t been “enough” investment in Abaco’s infrastructure since Hurricane Dorian ravaged the island in 2019.

“In addition to the port, there is an ever pressing need for more housing,” Cooper said.

“We still have some government employees, civil servants, who are living in the trailers nearby the [Marsh Harbour] Government Complex.”

Shavina Major, 50, a janitor at the administrator’s office in the Government Complex, is among those employees living in trailers.

She said she has been living in the mobile home since she lost her home during Dorian.

“After losing my home, my husband and daughter passed (not as a result of Dorian) and I didn’t have a place to live so I had to end up living here,” said Major, who evacuated the trailer ahead of Nicole.

When asked about living in the trailer, she replied, “It’s small but it’s shelter over our heads. We have everything. We have stove. We have air condition. We have electricity, a bed and a bunk. Everything is good inside.”

Major said shares the trailer with her 22-year-old stepdaughter and her 18-year-old daughter.

She said she started to rebuild her home with the help of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority.

A housing shortage has plagued Abaco since Dorian.

Cooper said the government is making “significant efforts” through the Ministry of Housing to address this.

“Being here today and seeing the number of persons who still live in the trailers, really is a reminder of the large quantity of housing required here,” he said.

“The government will continue to put its efforts behind these initiatives.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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