As Grand Bahamians complained of a lack of access to aid due to hoarding at distribution sites, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Spokesperson Carl Smith said the issues are because people need to “comply with law and order”.
Many on the storm-ravaged island have said that they have no vehicles to drive to distribution sites. Even when they do make it there, they say it’s a free-for-all, with the most aggressive people or people who got there first taking all the supplies.
Over a week after the storm left the island in ruin, Smith begged for the public’s patience in receiving aid.
“We are dealing with a disaster,” he said.
“Unfortunately, patience is running out. We are begging the public. They will be serviced.
“They need to have law and order. One of the reasons why we have this exacerbated situation is because people refuse to comply with law and order. We need law and order, and we must drive that into our people.”
Asked what NEMA is doing to help people access the distribution centers, Smith said the agency is doing its best.
“We are facilitating getting them to the places as best we can,” he said.
He added, “We are doing our best. Let me use an example. If I visit the hospital now, there are people there. I don’t expect to be served immediately. We have to prioritize.”
In a press release yesterday, the government said NEMA and Carnival Cruise Line took thousands of prepared lunches to Grand Bahama residents on Thursday afternoon at the old Portion Control Shopping Centre.
Senate President Kay Forbes Smith, who heads the hurricane relief and redevelopment efforts on Grand Bahama, told ZNS Grand Bahama yesterday that drivers are going out into Grand Bahama to deliver food and supplies to those residents who do not have cars.
“We are trying to get food and water out into the community,” she said.
“The feeding distribution is a big part of what we need to continue to do over the next couple of days and on Saturday and Sunday we will be at St. John’s Jubilee Cathedral at 4p.m. This continues for the next couple of days.”
In a one minute and fifty-second-long video posted on social media on Thursday, one man, who claims to be in Freeport, Grand Bahama, shows three men who appear to be scavenging for food in a dumpster.
“We are at Cost Right,” the man claimed as he sat in his car.
“People are going through the dumpsters to find food to eat. They say that we have stuff coming in. We have not yet seen anything but people are going through the garbage looking for food. So, this is what’s going on in Freeport.”
The man added, “People are loading up their vehicles with expired stuff, maybe hoping that they find something that is not expired to get something to eat. This is Freeport y’all.”