More than a year after Hurricane Dorian left East Grand Bahama in shambles, McLean’s Town, the easternmost settlement on the island, has been re-energized.
Cleopatra Russell, communications manager at Grand Bahama Power Company, said the company is now set to begin efforts to restore electricity on Deep Water Cay and Sweeting’s Cay.
“Obviously, these customers would have been without power since the passing of Hurricane Dorian,” she said.
“Our team has worked diligently and safely to rebuild the line bringing power all the way to the eastern end of the island, so that we can prepare to go across the water into Deep Water Cay and Sweeting’s Cay.
“We successfully energized Pelican Point, Rocky Creek, and McLean’s Town.
“And our team will be working with the residents here to continue to energize each individual home as they get approval from the Ministry of Works to be energized.”
Hurricane Dorian passed over Abaco and Grand Bahama last September as one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic.
The storm left a trail of devastation in its wake, with the eye having sat over eastern Grand Bahama for nearly two days before moving north.
Last December, discouraged by the amount of progress on the island, Minister of Finance and East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest told the Grand Bahama Power Company it had to either quickly restore services to the entire island or hand over the responsibility to the government.
He said the company has not been sensitive to the needs of Grand Bahamians in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which leveled parts of the island in early September.
Russell said that instead of rebuilding all the power lines that existed before, the Grand Bahama Power Company placed a generator at Equinor, the oil company formerly called Statoil, to provide power to the areas in the far east of the island.
“What we did was work with our stakeholder, Statoil, to use their facility. And we placed a generator there, so that we were able to expedite the process of energizing the eastern end of the island,” she said.
“And then, we would have started to build the lines back from Statoil up into McLean’s Town and back to High Rock and Freetown. And that would have alleviated us as it relates to time, instead of having to build the entire line back from the bridge or over the bridge directly into this area.”
Russell said there were roughly 300 customers in the eastern end of Grand Bahama before Dorian, but that’s down significantly, as homes remain in disrepair.
“Presently, we are at less than 25 percent of that because, obviously, customers continue to rebuild,” she said.
“But what we wanted to do was, just in time to rebuild, to have the energy ready to provide to customers when they need it. So, in McLean’s Town, we are going to energize about six or seven homes today. But as you can tell, customers here are continuing to rebuild. So, we anticipate that whenever they are ready, we’ll be able to give them power.”
Cecil Leathern, a lifelong resident of McLean’s Town, said he was excited about finally having electricity again.
“Over a year now, we was out of power,” he said.
“Well, I’m really excited. It’s been a long time and the news I was getting first was that we weren’t going to be energized anymore. And right now, for me to see them come today and put the meter in there, I’m pretty excited right now.”
Leathern said he had nine feet of flooding in his home during Dorian.
“I lost everything,” he said. “But today is an exciting day and I have it all back and I’m pretty excited.”
Patrice Higgs, who has been living in McLean’s Town for 29 years, was also elated.
“[I’m] very excited, very excited,” she said.
“When I reached from work today, I met [Grand Bahama] Power. And I asked them, ‘What are you all doing today?’
“So, they said, ‘We came to hook up your power.’
“I couldn’t believe it. I knew we were going to get power soon but I wasn’t sure it was going to be this early. So, I’m grateful today. I’m thankful.
“[B]ecause when we think of the fuel that we’ve spent from Hurricane Dorian passed, it’s been devastating. But thank God, as of today, no more fuel.”