Harbour Island residents say blackout was a ‘slap in the face’

Residents of Harbour Island, Eleuthera, said that a four-day long blackout ruined Christmas for many and called it a slap in the face from Bahamas Power and Light (BPL). 

On Christmas Day, BPL reported that “a major fault on the cable supplying power to Harbour Island has resulted in the island having partial power for the past 48 hours”.

“We are now conducting load shedding exercises in the island,” BPL said.

In a statement on Thursday, BPL said “mechanical defects were responsible for knocking the on-island rental generation offline”.

The corporation said all supplies on Harbour Island were restored.

“Our initial investigation into the incident appears to indicate that the cables connecting Harbour Island to the mainland at the Three Island Dock site failed sometime after the generators came offline,” BPL said.

“The two incidents are not connected, and investigations into the cause of the failure of the cables is due to be completed by Friday of this week (yesterday).

“Ultimately, it was the breakdown of the rental generation, combined with failure of the cables, which caused the power supply difficulties on the island over the last few days.

“However, when the cables at the Three Island Dock site went down, BPL was able to take advantage of a new cable recently installed at our Whale Point Crossing site to bring supply back to portions of the island.

“In addition, a technician from the rental company was able to get to the island by 2 p.m. Thursday to assist in bringing the new rental generation online.

“As of about 5:15 p.m. Thursday, BPL was reporting all customers [were] back on our system, with some being supplied through Whale Point and others being supplied from the power station.”

‘A slap in the face’

Many families on Harbour Island told The Nassau Guardian that the experience was “stressful and a slap in the face”.

Dorlan Curtis Jr., 29, said he had relatives who were visiting the island from out of town.

“For us, it was just stressful because we came to Harbour Island to see our grandparents, and there was no power,” Curtis said.

“So, we couldn’t cook. A lot of our appliances obviously run on electricity like our oven, so we had to find a way to cook the turkey or just to cook basic things for dinner. It was just a huge inconvenience.”

He said although his family didn’t need electricity to bond and spend time together during the holidays, there is no excuse for a three-day blackout.

“It’s the fact that it’s 2019 and lights went off for three days at a time,” Curtis said.

“All of our food we basically have to throw away because it’s been not refrigerated for three days. So, any meat that we had, we had to dispose of.

“There are also people in our family that have diabetes that require insulin to be refrigerated. We don’t have a backup generator. So, a lot of that medication sometimes goes bad because it needs to be a certain temperature.

“So, it was really just a slap in the face from our power company because there was no notice as to what happened and when the lights will be restored. We’re paying light bills. So, we don’t expect this to be happening for four days at a time.”

Shandesha Carlton, 21, shared similar sentiments as Curtis.

“You know most Bahamians usually cook [on] Christmas Eve, and that couldn’t happen because we didn’t have electricity,” she said.

“We were able to cook on Christmas morning, but today food is already spoiled.

“BPL has definitely ruined Christmas for me, and I’m sure many others on the island.

“Small businesses that don’t have generators can’t open their stores, and the sad part is there was no official update until 48 hours later.”

Alexa Poteet, 33, was visiting with her husband and two children from Washington, DC.

“We’ve been in the dark at Tingum Village Hotel from December 23 until very late last night,” she said.

“The power is on briefly now, but I believe it is going off again soon, per rumors.

“I mostly feel awful for the local kids who had their Christmas holiday ruined.

“Half the island is still in the dark and has been since the 23rd with spotty information circulating.”

Poteet said that she and her family will be vacationing for another two weeks, and they hope to make the best of their vacation.

She said the biggest inconvenience has been taking cold showers, especially for her kids who are one and three years old.

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