PM Says Government Committed to Organized Process of Hurricane Joaquin Restoration
By: Eric Rose
NASSAU, The Bahamas – On Oct. 14, 2015 Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Perry Christie gave a Bahamas Post-Hurricane Joaquin Assessment at the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Hon. Perry Christie declared that The Bahamas Government has made a commitment to reconstruct, to rebuild and to establish an organized process to do so, in the wake of the onslaught of Hurricane Joaquin.
“I have already asked the Ministry of Finance to review the opportunities for borrowing money from the Caribbean Development Bank, from concessional financing made available by the Chinese to the region, and other traditional sources because the country cannot wait; and that even if we were to have the most successful fundraising campaign, these initial requirements must be met by the government,” Prime Minister Christie said as he and others gave a detailed briefing at a press conference on assessments and the way forward following the storm.
Prime Minister Christie noted that as assessments continue to come in, the final figure would appear to be 10s of millions of dollars to meet the demands seen so far for the infrastructure work and buildings damaged and destroyed.
“We have not yet quantified the cost of the damages or the cost of repairs; but I can tell you that when I looked at some of the figures, we were over $60 million dollars and we were still having assessments come in,” Prime Minister Christie said.
While announcing the appointment of former Director of Works Ms. Melanie Roach as the head of the reconstruction and building team, Prime Minister Christie said that The Bahamas has a “very dynamic” capital development budget that the Ministry of Works and their officials must continue to implement in our country; so we thought we have to bring specific focus to the combined efforts of the private and public sector, and that Ms. Roach will lead that charge, supported by engineering teams from the Ministry of Works, from the Ministry of Housing, from the private sector.
Prime Minster Christie pointed out that assessments will also be made as to whom The Government would build homes for, during this process.
“There are others we will help partially and there are others who will just do it on their own; so the question is being able to make the best assessments and to be able to move ahead with a programme that is very broad,” Prime Minister Christie said.
“Obviously, we are going to have to raise monies and there are situations that I have seen this time that causes me to believe that we even have to help some people who are in business.”
Government Agencies and Utilities Bahamas Post-Hurricane Joaquin Assessment
During the briefing, several government agencies and utilities presented snapshots of their assessments so far.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) stated that one week earlier, after the passage of Hurricane Joaquin, the company discovered 59 Cell Sites offline, negatively impacting 59 Communities in the Central and Southern Bahamas. However, as of October 13, 2015, the company reported that 38% of those Cell Sites had been restored.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation also both gave overviews of their assessments and work done on the various affected islands; and the Department of Civil Aviation confirmed that all airports in the islands affected by Hurricane Joaquin were open for normal operations, although some terminal buildings suffered damages.
The Ministry of Works stated that it had completed its initial survey of damages to Government infrastructure, including roads, causeways and bridges and other government installations — including schools, clinics, official residences — and that report is “in hand” and being analyzed and reviewed for further action.
Turning to the reports on Government Immediate Relief Services, the Department of Public Health stated that Health Relief Assessment Teams were deployed to Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, with a team of five doctors and seven nurses being sent out as early as Sunday, October 4, 2015.
Also, medical supplies which include vaccines and equipment were continuously being distributed to the affected islands, as of October 5. Nursing staff rotation was being conducted on a weekly basis and doctors were rotating every three to four days. This was being done in order for the medical teams to have some “down time” before redeployment, the briefing noted.
The Department of Environmental Health Services reported that it had deployed several teams throughout the impacted islands to carry out a number of sanitation exercises for the control of water-borne diseases and other related issues that might arise due to standing water that residents might come in contact with in their communities.
The Department of Social Services reported that four teams consisting of 14 Social Workers were deployed to conduct rapid initial damage assessments and assist with distribution of food and water to the severely affected islands of the Bahamas, on Sunday, October 4, 2015.
It was also announced that later that day 17 trailers, that were fully equipped for living accommodation, would arrive in Crooked Island and serve as a temporary operational base for members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) who had deployed to that island in furtherance of the recovery and restoration efforts.
The “Mobile City” would accommodate the marines who provide relief to the distressed communities, including the provision of food and water and other basic services. Members of the team would provide security for the material and other goods that will be sent to the island and would assist in the coordination and distribution of these goods and services to the distressed community. In short, the brief stated, it would be a military command post under the direction of a senior command officer.
Other agencies also gave a Bahamas Post-Hurricane Joaquin Assessment. However, Prime Minister Christie summed up everything presented at that event in one short sentence.
“We have the resolve to aggressively deal with this matter,” Prime Minister Christie stated.