The quality of The Bahamas’ character as a nation and its values are riding on how the country responds to the needs of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partners such as Dominica which was devastated by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis said Wednesday, September 27, 2017.
“We can either respond with humanitarian and Christian values, or we can close our hearts to those who are now experiencing tremendous suffering and emergency needs.
“Charity, must begin at home, but Charity never stops at the border of a country (and) is rooted in love and compassion and must extend to others beyond ourselves,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Delivering his communication to the House of Assembly on The Bahamas’ proposed post Hurricanes Irma and Maria assistance to Dominica, Prime Minister Minnis said Dominica experienced “an apocalypse” as a result of the two Super Storms.
Homes are flattened, buildings roofless, water pipes smashed and road infrastructure destroyed. The hospital is without power and schools have disappeared beneath the rubble. Additionally, crops have been uprooted and where there was green, there is now only dust and dirt.
The majority of the country’s population of 75,000 citizens and residents are homeless, and many of the country’s mountainous communities are not accessible by road. Reports suggest that 80 per cent of the buildings have either been destroyed or severely damaged.
Dominica’s beautiful Rain Forest, which gave life to the island-nation’s tourism industry, has been flattened and its agriculture destroyed. The majority of its fishing boats have been lost and the country literally cannot feed itself.
There is no running water, most of the electrical grid has been destroyed, public health is at risk of disease from stagnant water and dead animals, and those in need of dialysis are at-risk of dying because the hospital is without power.
Thus far, 15 persons have been confirmed killed as a result of the monster Hurricanes with the death toll likely to rise.
“The desolation is beyond imagination,” Prime Minister Minnis told House Members. “I could only imagine how I would feel if The Bahamas was devastated in the same way and I had to travel overseas to ask for assistance if we were hit as hard by a monster Category 5 Hurricane.
“Imagine if 80 per cent of the buildings on New Providence were destroyed. Imagine if our electrical and telecommunications grids were destroyed. Imagine if most of the roads in New Providence were uprooted and if PMH (Princess Margaret Hospital) was without power.
“Imagine if every single government-operated school was destroyed and most police stations, clinics and government offices destroyed. Imagine if most people on Grand Bahama or New Providence became homeless overnight.
“So how should we respond to our Caribbean neighbour and CARICOM Partner? We should respond the way we would want others to respond if we were in such dire need and desperation,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
The Prime Minister said there have been many expressions of gratitude (in The Bahamas) about being spared the fury of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic.
“If our expressions of gratitude do not translate into generosity towards those in dire need because of these killer storms, our gratitude to God is superficial at best. One cannot fully express gratitude to God, yet turn one’s heart away from a neighbour in great need.
“As Caribbean neighbours we share a similar history of overcoming colonialism and slavery. And we share a common destiny now also shaped by the reality of climate change and global warming.
“How should we respond? The Character of our nation and our values are riding on how we respond.”
By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services