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On alert

On an island where the psychological and physical scars of multiple hurricanes over the years is still evident, the reality of another storm on the way has many Grand Bahamians deeply worried and rushing to complete their preparations.

With Dorian forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane and remain a dangerous storm throughout the weekend, residents raced to grocery and department stores, water depots and areas like Bahama Rock for supplies of sand.

Many secured their properties — battening down their homes and businesses and moving furniture, trimming trees and clearing their yards.

Last night, a hurricane alert was in effect for the islands of the northwest Bahamas, including New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco, Grand Bahama, North Andros, Bimini and the Berry Islands. A hurricane watch was issued for those islands on Friday morning.

The storm is moving near 13 miles per hour and this general motion was expected to continue through today.

Dorian is projected to approach the northwest Bahamas tomorrow and move near or over portions of the northwest Bahamas on Sunday.

At 8 a.m., maximum sustained winds were 115 miles per hour with higher gusts.

But the storm is expected to be at least a category three when it hits the northern Bahamas.

Meteorologist Wayne Neely predicted that The Bahamas could begin feeling the impact of Dorian sometime today.

“I’m afraid for Abaco and Grand Bahama,” Neely said.

“Right now, Dorian was supposed to be impacted by the mountains of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, but it moved further east than [expected], and that doesn’t bode well for The Bahamas because the mountains didn’t really tear the storm apart.

“Grand Bahama and Abaco are going to get the full brunt of the storm. If there is one good thing, most of the stronger points will be [over] water, on the present track, but any wobble, left or right, could take it either further north or further south and then there would be catastrophe.”

Some Grand Bahamians are still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. That storm resulted in the closure of the Grand Lucayan resort.

The island never quite recovered since the back-to-back storms of 2004. Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne left a trail of destruction, resulting in the closure of the Royal Oasis resort in Freeport.

In 2005, Grand Bahama was battered by Wilma.

Many residents are severely anxious as they fear another significant episode as a result of Dorian. 

Samantha Rose, a resident of Queens Cove, said she is terrified that her childhood home, where she lives with her parents, will not be standing after the hurricane.

“From Hurricane Matthew, we didn’t get a lot of repairs done,” Rose told The Nassau Guardian.

“I’m really worried about this,” she said as she began to cry.

“I’m very worried that just with the rains we’ve had in the last couple of months my roof has been leaking, so I’m very worried that I might come home and not have a roof on the house or something worse may happen. I’m preparing for the worst.”

She described her neighborhood as a low-lying, coastal area.

Rose, who works in the fishing industry, said she and many of her neighbors pack up their belongings in trailers and find refuge in shelters and houses on higher ground during hurricanes.

Gail Woon, a resident of Freeport, said residents are becoming increasingly concerned as the storm barrels closer. 

“People are getting concerned because we’ve been bashed and battered several times before and people know what to expect,” Woon said.

“I spoke to someone from NEMA (the National Emergency Management Agency) this morning and they’re mobilizing and everyone’s going to get their provisions and preparing their houses.” 

Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said utility companies and other government agencies have “indicated that they are prepared” for Dorian.

“There are some last-minute preparations that we are doing in reference to ensuring that we have all of the shelters up and prepared,” Thompson said.

“We are also looking at ensuring, particularly in the East End and West End districts, that all of the drainage are secured in the event that there is flooding.”

Thompson advised the public to be aware of “all of the effects” that Dorian can have on the island and to begin preparing for the hurricane.

There are nine hurricane shelters on Grand Bahama.

Abaco

Caroljean Lowe, a resident of Green Turtle Cay, said residents of the island are “rushing around trying to get ready”.

“I just came from Marsh Harbour,” Lowe said yesterday.

“Everybody is in full swing.”

She said many of the residents are not concerned about running out of water because they have “rainwater tanks so even if the power goes off we have access to water”.

Lowe said the general mood on the cay is “calm and praying the storm doesn’t come”.

Reginald McIntosh, a senior citizen living in Fox Town, said the energy in his settlement is practically the same as Green Turtle Cay.

He said he is not worried about the hurricane at all.

“My house is boarded up pretty good and I’ve got my food,” McIntosh said.

“My house is all the way in the back on the hill, so I don’t think there will be any kind of damage.” 

Maxine Duncombe, the administrator for Central Abaco, said her team is ensuring that the 15 hurricane shelters are ready for when Dorian approaches.

She said the island still had a sufficient supply of water and other essential items.

Asked if any evacuation notices had been issued, Duncombe said, “We don’t want to act prematurely. We’re just going to follow the advice from the meteorology department and also from NEMA.

“If it comes to that point where people are in low-lying areas, we will ask them to move into the shelters.”

However, Jo-Ann Bradley, a resident of Cherokee Sound, said no one in her settlement intends to evacuate as Dorian approaches. 

“We have survived through all of the hurricanes that are major, including Floyd, and none of us has had to evacuate,” Bradley said.

She said there isn’t any fear among residents in the settlement “but there is awareness”.

“We are very uniquely situated in Cheerokee [Sound] in that there is a cliff and the Atlantic [Ocean] is beyond the cliff.

“On this side of the cliff, where the settlement is, [there] is a huge, huge, large shallow bay and so when a hurricane drags water in, it dissipates before it ever gets to the settlement. You rarely get more than a foot or so. So, we are not worried about flooding.” 

Dorian is the fourth named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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