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Minister says shelter residents given deadline to leave

Fewer than 100 victims of last year’s Hurricane Dorian remain in shelters on New Providence, Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters outside the Churchill Building, Campbell said the number is divided between those staying at Bahamas Academy and those staying at Poinciana Inn, but that both groups could possibly be combined.

“Here in New Providence, at last count, I think we had 20 or less in Poinciana,” he said. “I think I gave instructions to give those 20 a deadline.

“We have 50 or less in Bahamas Academy. If need be, we may combine the two. But our ultimate objective is to have those persons transition.”

Campbell said he could not recall the exact “deadline” given to those who remain at Poinciana Inn, but said, “I believe in light of the reduced numbers, it is sufficient to suggest that even those who are there, if they made a little more effort, they too can transition.”

He also said that COVID-19 was not a major concern for the shelters as shelter workers have been adhering to health protocols, and that shelter residents are people who live in the same household and who have been together for months with no symptoms.

Dorian was the strongest storm on record to ever hit The Bahamas, leaving mass destruction on Grand Bahama and Abaco when it struck last September.

The official death toll stands at 74, while thousands were displaced after their homes were destroyed.

Three weeks into the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1, and as concerns arise regarding whether shelters are sufficiently ready for this new season which is predicted to be an active one, Campbell assured that his ministry has done due diligence.

He noted, however, “We were prepared the last time, but then we had Dorian. So the truth of the matter is, you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

“…We’ve done our normal and regular due diligence in collaboration with NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) and the new minister – Ministry for Disaster Management – and we’re hopeful that we don’t have a repeat of last year. We’re hopeful that the partnerships that we were able to nurture from last year, should we need them, we’re able to call on them for the benefit of the people that we serve.”

NEMA’s most recent shelter listing, dated June 14, announced approved shelters throughout The Bahamas except for Salina Point, Acklins; Spanish Wells, Eleuthera; Grand Bahama and Central Abaco.

The agency has advised the government to consider evacuation plans for those areas.

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