FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas -- Minister of Social Services and Urban Development the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe and Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Ginger Moxey were on the ground within communities of Grand Bahama hours after the passage of the cyclone over the Northern Bahamas late Friday and most of Saturday.
Ministers Wilchcombe and Moxey began their assessment of Grand Bahama on Sunday (June 5, 2022) afternoon in Freeport, moved into West Grand Bahama, including Eight Mile Rock and Jones Town, and ended in East Grand Bahama.
“What we wanted to do was get a quick assessment of any damages that were caused by the tropical cyclone because we received reports about flooding and some damage to a number of homes,” said Minister Wilchcombe.
“The reality is that a lot of houses have still not been repaired since Hurricane Dorian passed through this island in 2019. And so they were vulnerable. Many families had a difficult time on Saturday when the cyclone passed over this island. There were more than 100 houses people were attending to on Saturday.”
He said that he and Minister Moxey heard the calls to personally assess the situation.
The potential tropical cyclone did not reach a named status while it crossed over Florida and The Bahamas on Friday and Saturday, but the system unleashed heavy rain downpours, leaving severe flooding in many areas of Grand Bahama and Bimini.
Signs of the flooding could still be seen on Sunday, as the Ministers, along with officials from the Department of Social Services and the police department traversed the partially flooded streets and communities.
“We’re taking note of the things that need to be done in these communities,” said Minister Wilchcombe. “Minister Moxey and I have been briefed on a number of things we have to put in place, including fixing drainage to control flooding, moving immediately to fix up some of these homes.
“We are in the hurricane season and so we expect more storm threats, more wind, more rains, so what we have to do is, as best we can, ensure that our people live as free of anxiety as possible when facing these kinds of situations.”
Both Minister Wilchcombe and Minister Moxey took time to talk with residents in communities that were badly flooded. Some homes suffered roof damage because of the heavy rains. Some residents could be seen removing flooded items outside to hopefully be dried by the sun that had come out on Sunday morning.
Minister Moxey noted that it was important for she and her colleague ministers to get out as quickly as possible to assess the aftermath of the tropical cyclone. She noted that West grand Bahama and Bimini were hit hardest by the system, and as such there is a lot of work to do to not only help the people who have been affected by Saturday’s system, but to ensure that those who were adversely affected by Hurricane Dorian get the much needed help that they need.
“We intend to move immediately to get things done,” said Minister Moxey. “There’s lots of need out there, so we don’t intend to sit on this. We’ve made the assessments and there is Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, so we will immediately put this matter forward to the Cabinet and update the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers on the situation here in Grand Bahama. We will address the needs of the people, because we need to bring immediate relief to the people in these communities.”
Minister Moxey said that she could relate to the anxiety Grand Bahamians feel every time a storm travels because of the trauma of Category Five Hurricane Dorian that badly devastated Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Both Minister Moxey and Minster Wilchcombe noted that while they move quickly to deal with the immediate needs that Grand Bahamians and Biminites face because of severe flooding and damage from the recent storm system, their main focus continues to be to address climate change.
“We’re developing a master plan that involves climate change and resiliency for Grand Bahama Island,” said Minister Moxey. “So, we’re going to look at the entire island to see how we can really execute this plan moving forward. This is the Prime Minister’s mandate and we are a big part of carrying out that mandate.”