Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday called on the government to launch a commission of inquiry into events surrounding Hurricane Dorian, noting that the Minnis administration “botched up” its handling of the storm’s aftermath.
His comments come amid public confusion regarding the total number of people still missing following the Category 5 storm, which ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama nine months ago.
On Sunday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said the number of people recorded as missing in the aftermath of Dorian stands at 279.
Just three weeks prior, during a press conference held by the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), Assistant Commissioner of Police Solomon Cash reported that only 33 people were still listed as missing.
Davis said yesterday that the government’s figures are “all over the place”.
“They still haven’t gotten it right and this is something that I’ve been talking about from the hurricane, from day one when I started making my assessment of what is going on and hearing people on the ground talking about their missing loved ones, hearing of two whole families not being accounted for,” the opposition leader told The Nassau Guardian.
“There really isn’t any information that is coming from them in respect to people who have lost their lives or who might be missing. There was always a ball of confusion as it relates to that matter.”
On Thursday, former Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said thousands of names of people reported missing immediately after Dorian were removed from the official list after police took responsibility for that aspect of the storm’s aftermath, noting that no explanation was ever given for why the list was “pruned”.
He called for a coroner’s inquest to be convened.
However, Davis said he thinks it should “go farther than that”.
“I think we need an inquiry that is wider than this mandate as to what preparation was made in the pre-hurricane, what happened during the hurricane and the post-hurricane recovery efforts,” he said.
“You need a holistic investigation of what went on and what went wrong; perhaps a commission of inquiry.”
Davis called on Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to address the questions that have arisen as a result of Sands’ comments.
“We’ve all been trying to get him to speak,” he said.
“I don’t want to hear Dames. I’d prefer to hear him on what’s going on, maybe he’ll do that during the course of the budget debate.”
He said he doubts the prime minister’s comment will bring clarity to the matter.
“It’s already out there,” Davis said.
“All he needs to be saying now is what they’re going to do about having botched up the whole matter.”
The remains of 55 unidentified storm victims were buried in Abaco on May 22.
The official death toll from the catastrophic Category 5 hurricane that devastated Grand Bahama and Abaco last September is 74.