Residents in the southeastern Bahamas were yesterday bracing for the impact of Hurricane Fiona, which was expected to deliver tropical storm conditions as soon as last night.
The Department of Meteorology said Acklins, Crooked Island, Inagua, Long Cay, Mayaguana, Ragged Island and Samana Cay were expected to get strong winds, heavy rains, of about one to three inches, and localized flooding.
Fiona, with winds exceeding 100 miles per hour, devastated Puerto Rico and hammered the Dominican Republic yesterday. There were reports of deaths associated with the storm on both islands. Puerto Rico saw severe flooding and total power outage.
The Turks and Caicos Islands were forecasted to receive the brunt of the hurricane today.
Mayaguana Island Administrator Kefsieanne Ferguson said yesterday that
roughly 175 people on the island were taking Fiona seriously.
Ferguson said the island’s three hurricane shelters were open.
“We will be evacuating some people from Abraham’s Bay – it’s very low lying – from flooding,” she said.
“We heard this system is coming with wind.”
She said, “As best as they can, they are bracing and taking it serious.”
Ferguson said there were challenges with finding plywood on the island but residents did what they could.
She said the mail boat came to the island yesterday to deliver supplies ahead of the storm, which was a relief for many.
Whelma Colebrooke, administrator on Acklins, said her team was ready.
Colebrooke said officials rode from Salina Point to Lovely Bay advising residents to prepare.
“… We just hope we don’t have any flooding,” she said, adding that the island has about 600 people.
On Crooked Island, administrator Shandrose Thompson said yesterday the shelter was open and rescue teams were assembled.
“The shelter has been open since 9 a.m. this morning,” she said.
“We also have our swift water rescue teams assembled. They are ready to go.”
That team includes rescue boats that are placed near low-lying communities.
“We have positioned the boats nearby, so we can access them,” she said.
“We are good to go. We are ready to hunker down and ride the storm out if it comes our way.
“We have teams in every settlement with their radios ready to go. We are ready.”
Marlon Leary, the administrator on Inagua, said residents were waiting to see what Fiona does.
“We checked all the shelters to ensure that they are properly prepared,” he said.
“We checked the generators to check that they are working. The government officials secured their areas.
“The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is on standby to assist in any way. Social Services made sure the shelters are prepared. Police are doing their checks. We are prepared. Everyone is sitting back and waiting to see what happens.
“Morton Bahamas, which is the main employer on the island, they have already secured their premises, their plant and all their buildings.”
Leary noted that the majority of the island’s roughly 1,100 residents were prepared.
“Those who wanted to prepare have already prepared,” he said.
“There are some people who say, ‘Oh, it’s not coming this way.’
“You get that all the time. The majority of people prepare and some wait.”
At 7:30 p.m., Fiona was 245 miles southeast of Mayaguana. The Category 2 storm, which was expected to strengthen, was moving toward the northwest at 10 miles per hour.
It is expected to turn toward the north-northwest later today and north tomorrow.
“Steady strengthening is expected during the next couple of days and Fiona is forecast to become a major hurricane [today],” the Department of Meteorology said.