Bahamians who sought refuge in the United States following Hurricane Dorian should return to The Bahamas to help rebuild impacted islands, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis urged yesterday.
“I know that Bahamians were placed in shelters in the Florida area and I would’ve said repeatedly – maybe not with you but with international agencies – that those Bahamians must now return back because the U.S. would’ve given them a certain length of time,” Minnis told reporters.
“…Many of them will be accommodated. If they’re from Abaco, they will be accommodated in the Family Relief Center that we’re constructing and similarly in Grand Bahama.
“But accommodations are being made for them to return home because they’re needed to help rebuild our Bahamas.”
He said he did not know how many Bahamians, who left because of the storm, were still in the U.S.
Dorian – the strongest storm in Bahamian history – devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in early-September.
The storm left thousands of residents displaced, hundreds missing and at least 65 dead.
Minnis visited Abaco on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“In terms of government-operated schools, our target is to reopen schools in Abaco in January,” Minnis said during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister.
“We will provide further updates on this.”
Minnis said power has been fully restored to South Abaco, Moore’s Island and Grand Cay.
The prime minister said power is expected to be restored to North Abaco by the first week of November, and to Green Turtle Cay by mid-November.
“Because Marsh Harbour and the adjacent areas are larger and contained more public infrastructure than the Abaco Cays, Marsh Harbour is obviously going to require considerably more reconstruction,” he said.
“Even as we rebuild Marsh Harbour and the adjacent communities, we are working to rebuild the cays as quickly as possible. This will help with economic recovery in general and will help the people on the Abaco mainland to recover.
“For example, Elbow Cay employed approximately 400 people from Marsh Harbour. The quicker communities like Hope Town and Elbow Cay are rebuilt, the more employment there is for the residents of the mainland.
“In addition to general reconstruction efforts, we must get as much regular economic activity as possible going throughout Abaco, including in areas not destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.”
Minnis said the government will deploy hundreds of personnel from an array of ministries and agencies to assist with the coordination of recovery and reconstruction on the island.
He said the government is working to ensure security is on the ground.
“Those who break the law will be prosecuted,” the prime minister said.
“Law and order are essential for rebuilding. We have had to reestablish the workings and the instruments of government on the ground.
“This is the largest deployment of government personnel in the history of the country in the aftermath of a natural disaster.”
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) has set up a container city in Dundas Town, Abaco, where officers prepare about 700 meals per day, according to Minnis.
“They have set up an RO (reverse osmosis) plant capable of producing 1,000 gallons of water per day,” he said.
“There is also a clinic and living quarters for officers.”