‘Too early to give accurate number of missing’

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday that it was “too early” to disclose how many people are missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

However, days after the storm devastated parts of Abaco, Grand Bahama and the surrounding cays, officials released figures for how many people were missing.

The last update on missing people from Abaco and Grand Bahama came in early October when it was reported that 282 people were missing.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which initially released the numbers, has directed the media to contact the commissioner regarding the missing.

“I have not released any figures on the missing persons during the hurricane,” Ferguson said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.

“Let me just say, it’s really too early for us to begin to talk about how many persons were missing, and I think as time goes on, as the investigation goes on, you’ll find that we’ll be in a position to kind of give an estimate of persons.

“I don’t believe, from what I know and from being on the front line of the investigation, we will probably never be able to give a precise number of persons who have been missing, but at some point going forward, we will be able to release a figure that we are comfortable with. We will do that in consultation with the right people.”

Hurricane Dorian swept over Abaco and Grand Bahama in the beginning of September, leaving ruin in its wake. So far, 67 have been confirmed dead, and thousands displaced.

Ferguson said the circumstances make it difficult to be entirely sure of the exact numbers. He noted that many people left the country in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and could be among the count.

“Let’s say, for example, you have three family members coming in and making a report of a missing person and when you look at it, it’s the same person,” he said.

While no official numbers have been provided since last month, a local news organization reported that the number of missing people increased according to a situation report from NEMA.

NEMA, however, said it did not release the document that was cited, and said it is no longer responsible for releasing the number of missing people.

“NEMA also confirms that the November 1, 2019 situation report being circulated in the media was not released by NEMA,” it said in a press release.

“Situation reports are internal documents designed to facilitate interagency coordination and situational awareness related to a particular event, in this case, Hurricane Dorian.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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