Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday that while there have been isolated incidents of looting on Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, most of the reports that circulated on social media over the past few days were unfounded.
“A lot of that has been grossly overstated,” he said when asked.
“You’re going to have incidents from time to time, and they may have been isolated in cases, but this notion that there are bands of individuals running throughout Abaco and taking over is nonsense.
“I was on the ground in Marsh Harbour, and the police and the defense force are in full control. They are now in full control of the island. We saw nothing of that sort. We followed up. Our officers followed up on a number of the complaints, especially in the Marsh Harbour area, and found out that the vast majority were unfounded at all.
“Are you going to have incidents? Yes, of course. That will happen, but again, we should not use an incident to create a case of mass hysteria throughout the country and around the world to take the focus off what is most important, which is protecting the lives and saving the lives of those persons, our brothers and sisters who would have been significantly impacted on these islands, and it takes resources away from the effort as well.”
Dames said police and defense force officers have been on the ground since before the storm, lending assistance.
“The police were in there prior to the storm, rescuing people and assisting with the shelter, and the defense force [as well],” he said.
“I had an opportunity to visit Marsh Harbour yesterday. I met a few persons who told me about their rescue stories, where police officers on heavy duty equipment, defense officers were able to bring them to safety.
“And now that we’re post-storm, the work intensifies. So, we’ve been inserting officers on the island now, even before the all clear, in an effort to maintain safety and security of the entire island. We were able to get officers into Treasure Cay today. We have defense force vessels in the area now, and we’re looking at the cays, visiting the cays to ensure that everything is in order.
“We’ve cleared the harbor. We’ve cleared the channels, so that our boats and our vessels and other support vessels can now enter into Abaco.”
He added, “We’ve set up staging areas to collect water and food supplies.”
“We have to work as hard as we can as fast as we can to allow people to get their lives back to some degree of normalcy, and we’re a long way off from that.”
Dames said the police and defense force have been working with the British navy to clear streets and allow road access throughout the island.