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Minister LaRoda and NEMA Officials Assess West GB Communities’ Readiness for 2022 Hurricane Season

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas -- Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for NEMA, Hon. Myles LaRoda fulfilled a promise he made to the residents of West Grand Bahama and led a team of officials from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on a tour of West Grand Bahama on Saturday, June 11, 2022, to get a first-hand view of the communities’ preparation for the hurricane season.

Minister LaRoda, along with Captain Stephen Russell, Director of NEMA, along with other NEMA officials met with Councilors from various West Grand Bahama communities to assess hurricane shelters in West Grand Bahama, as well as discuss what issues that may need immediate attention in order to have West Grand Bahama hurricane-prepared.

“After the potential tropical cyclone that happened last week and affected mainly West Grand Bahama and Bimini, I promised the people of West Grand Bahama and Bimini that I would come and review the assessment of damages that may have occurred,” said Minister LaRoda.

“Since we landed on Grand Bahama, we were able to tour the communities of Pinder’s Point, Lewis Yard, Hunters’, Eight Mile Rock and West End. We also got a chance to stop and look at one of the hurricane shelters in Eight Mile Rock at the school gym, which is the largest hurricane shelter in the west.

“Minister Obie Wilchcombe would have already submitted his report and assessment, advising the government on the damages and repairs that are needed. That report is under Cabinet consideration. NEMA is here to give any individual assistance that could be provided.”

Minister LaRoda said that there is an immediate need to get the hurricane shelter at the Eight Mile Rock gym properly fixed, because it is the largest shelter on the island.

The visit came on the heels of the recent passing of the potential tropical cyclone over Grand Bahama on Saturday, June 4, 2022, which left many of the communities in West Grand Bahama flooded.

Minister LaRoda acknowledged that although the system had never reached tropical storm nor hurricane strength, but because it brought heavy rains which resulted in major flooding mainly in West Grand Bahama, it allowed NEMA and government officials to get a better idea of some of the things that must be done to mitigate future flooding problems, even as the country prepares for this hurricane season, which has already started.

Captain Steven Russell, Director of NEMA said that it was his observation that because the areas in West Grand Bahama were inherently low-lying, it leaves them vulnerable to serious flooding from any heavy rainfall or storm surge.

He said the hurricane shelter at the Eight Mile Rock High School gym, is adequate, adding that there are some issues that must be attended to in order to move the facility from adequate to best.

“West Grand Bahama is almost considered the storm capital of the region and so any major storm that comes, you can anticipate storm surge coming across the western waters, because of the shallow banks to the north of it,” said Captain Russell.

“So, the evacuation plans, proper sheltering and proper drainage are all important components for all the residents in Grand Bahama.”

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