Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis made one final appeal to residents in vulnerable areas in Grand Bahama and the Abacos to evacuate as Hurricane Dorian, a “devastating and dangerous” category 4 storm, takes aim at the two northwestern islands.
Minnis said 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes will be impacted by the storm. He urged residents to get out before it is too late.
“I beg and plead with you to leave the cays and move to the mainland,” said Minnis at a press conference at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) today.
“This is especially for those in Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama’s Sweeting’s Cay.
“I want you to remember, homes, houses, structures can be replaced; lives cannot be replaced.
“We need you as our country continues to grow. There are many within the cays, Grand Cay and Sweeting’s Cay, who are refusing to leave.
“I beg and plead with you, for those of you who want to place your lives in danger, please allow the women, children and elderly to leave.
“Transportation is being provided by sea; both private and public boating systems are being utilized. Many residents have volunteered to use their vessels to move individuals. Time will not be on our side. “
Deputy Director of Meteorology Jeffrey Simmons saidHurricane Dorian was packing winds up to 150 mph at 11 a.m. He warned that Dorian could potentially strengthen further to a category 5 storm, with winds of up to 157 mph.
Minnis said Abaco is expected to begin feeling the effects of Hurricane Dorian at about 1 a.m. on Sunday.
“The northern part of Abaco will feel greater effects than the southern part,” he continued. “Therefore, residents in the northern parts of Abaco, we’re asking you to move to the shelter areas in the south so that you’ll feel less impact.”
Minnis also addressed concerns surrounding the large immigrant population in Abaco.
“We’ve utilized all communication systems available to us moving through the Mudd, Pigeon Peas, Sand Banks and other areas, utilizing Creole, so that all those individual [in] those areas would be warned, communicated to and asked to move away from those areas to safe grounds.”
Grand Bahama is expected feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian around 7 a.m. However, the worst of the storm is expected to hit the island by midnight on Monday.
Minnis also warned of devastating sea surges.
“To put it in perspective, I am 6’1″,” he said. “The surge is expected to be two to three times my height.
“What that would mean is that homes would potentially be completely submerged by water.”
Minnis also appealed to residents whose houses are inland to open their homes to evacuees.
“Bahamians are very political,” he said. “This is not the time to wear your political flag. This is the time for us to come under one flag, and that is the Bahamian flag. We are all Bahamians and I ask you to open your homes… to friends, relatives, etc. so that they may be accommodated.”
As for concerned related to immigration, Minnis said, “We are not concerned with citizenship; we are concerned with lives. We are all one. We are brothers and sisters and all shelters are open to all. After the hurricane, all will be treated accordingly.”