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Miami consulate facing challenges with storm evacuees

The Bahamas consulate office in Miami, Florida, is facing challenges managing Hurricane Dorian evacuees in the Miami-Dade and Broward areas, according to Consul General Linda Treco-Mackey.

As of January 8, Treco-Mackey said 425 persons registered with the consulate as evacuees following the storm.

“The telephone contacts given by these evacuees are no longer operable and in some cases families have moved from the registered address,” Treco-Mackey said.

“Evacuees initially made contact with the consulate within the first week after the storm and the number of registrants grew as we held meetings.

“Of the 425 persons registered, 39 percent or 166 originated from Grand Bahama, 44 percent or 185 originated from Abaco and 17 percent or 74 individuals did not disclose their island of origin.”

Treco-Mackey added that 16 percent or 66 persons reside in Miami-Dade County, 20 percent or 87 persons reside in Broward County, 37 percent or 159 reside in Palm Beach County and 11 percent or 47 reside in Central and Northern Florida.

Twelve percent or 52 persons failed to give their address, and three percent or 14 persons relocated out of state, according to Treco-Mackey.

She also noted that at least eight percent or 35 persons from this listing have returned to The Bahamas.

Treco-Mackey also noted that the Catholic Charities Diocese of Palm Beach has been managing about 30 families since late September who evacuated from the affected areas.

They currently have 67 individuals or 20 families under case management, which provides housing at the Inn Town Suites hotel in West Palm Beach.

In addition to lodging, the organization has been providing gift cards, bus passes, counseling and access to immigration specialists.

Treco-Mackey said it budgeted $9,109.79 per week for rooms, $1,675 per week for gift cards and $2,590 per month for bus passes.

She added that case management for this group will end on March 8, when most of the evacuees’ time in the U.S. expires.

To encourage persons to return home, Treco-Mackey said the organization is providing $1,000 visa gift cards per family with an additional $200 per child.

A $45 one-way fee was also arranged for persons returning to Grand Bahama.

“Major concerns coming from evacuees are the inability to return to their island of origin because of limited or no housing, school, medical care, employment assistance, etc.,” Treco-Mackey said.

“Many are willing to return, but they are concerned about who will cover travel and resettlement costs.”

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