Denalee Penn, CEO of Evergreen Mortuary, slammed plans announced yesterday by the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) to bury Hurricane Dorian victims on Abaco more than eight months after the storm devastated the island.
The 55 unidentified remains of storm victims, which have remained in a trailer on Abaco since September, are expected to be buried following a service of remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Dorian on Friday morning.
Penn accused the government of dragging its feet on ensuring the proper identification of the dead and arranging a “proper Christian burial” for them.
“People deserve the right to be appropriately informed of their loved one’s demise,” she said.
“They have a right to the proper burial of their loved ones and they have an entitlement to the continuity of life after death. This has been made increasingly difficult for many grief-stricken survivors forced to live with the less than acceptable performance of at least two government ministries, which were preoccupied with everything, except a proper identification of the dead in Abaco.
“Further, the government seems unconcerned with a respectful burial of the lost souls and providing the proper documentation of the deaths, so that those that remain can carry on with their lives after such a tragic event.”
At least 74 people died during Dorian – the most powerful storm on record to hit The Bahamas.
Hundreds remain missing, and thousands were displaced in its aftermath.
The burial of the remains in the trailer was set to take place on March 28, as part of a National Service of Remembrance to honor those who lost lives during Dorian.
However, that service was postponed due to the impact of COVID-19.
Penn said Abaconians “deserve more”.
“The mismanagement of this process can be described as no less than egregious and blatantly disrespectful,” she said.
Penn added, “I am asking the government to please get this right.
“While we cannot blame the government for a natural disaster, we expect the government to put the people before politics.
“For some, it is the provision of a reasonable standard of temporary housing.
“For others, it is having the necessary protocols and accoutrements in place to allow them the opportunity to identify the remains of their loved ones in a timely manner, bury them in a reasonable time and provide the necessary documentation for them to be able to begin life as close to normal as possible.”