Hurricane victims out of Abaco arriving in Eleuthera via boat.

(Eleuthera, The Bahamas)  Low lying areas across the island of Eleuthera experienced relatively minor flooding as a result of Hurricane Dorian, whose eye passed well to the north, but peppered the island with tropical storm force winds – which attenuated from north to south.  There was no significant damage reported in the aftermath of the storm on Eleuthera, unlike the devastation seen in islands to our immediate north, Abaco and Grand Bahama.

For several days, a team of NGO’s working along with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), have been preparing to receive people being evacuated from Abaco to Eleuthera, following the passage of deadly Hurricane Dorian through the northwest Bahamas.

On Friday afternoon, September 6th, 2019, the first boat with evacuees from Abaco arrived at Three Island Dock, with approximately 68 people on board.  NGO organizers on-site commented that as many as ten additional vessels could arrive on this first day with at least 300 people expected to be received, documented and transited.

On arrival, hurricane victims out of Abaco were processed for identity before being transferred to the North Eleuthera airport.

North Eleuthera, confirmed Member of Parliament, Mr. Howard Rickey Mackey, is being used as a ‘first stop’ transition point, where evacuees are being brought, before either joining family members on Eleuthera, or being further transported to Nassau.

“We’re transporting people out of Abaco, and we are anticipating bringing out 300 persons per day. The plan is to bring them into Three Island Dock, process them – documenting everybody that comes. We would then transfer them to the airport, where we are creating a waiting station for them and then they are going to be flown into Nassau.  Those people that have family members here are going to be invited to stay with their family members.  Those who don’t will be sent into New Providence,” explained MP Mackey.

“We have two 70-80 ft. boats that can carry almost one hundred people,” he added.

One of the first places being looked at to serve as temporary housing for some of the evacuees arriving on island from Abaco, said Mr. Mackey, was the Methodist Habitat’s Camp Symonette location in James’ Cistern.

Of the several hundred hurricane victims who arrived in Eleuthera on Friday, approximately 32 people were housed at Camp Symonette on Friday evening, with most of them expecting to be transited to New Providence after spending the night, confirmed a Methodist Habitat representative.  Eleutherans who were interested in donating food, and other items for this location, which has the capacity to house approximately 70 people, were asked to drop those items off at the Social Services office in Governor’s Harbour.

Evacuees out of Abaco at Three Island Dock sitting in tented waiting area.
Evacuees out of Abaco at Three Island Dock sitting in tented waiting area.

Additional assistance to help with the evacuee documentation and transiting process was also expected, shared North Eleuthera’s MP, “We have a team of Defence Force Officers, Police Officers, and some logistics people coming in – about 30 of them.  They are going to be assisting in the process, so that we can have security, and a smooth transition.”

He further explained that the transition point in Eleuthera was critical to the process of identifying possible ‘missing’ family members, saying, “The documenting process will assist with the problem we have where many people don’t know where their family members are – so, in doing this processing and filing these names, the information will be sent to NEMA’s database.  That information will go out, so, family members or friends can determine whether or not their family is accounted for or missing.”

Bus awaits hurricane victim evacuees from the Abacos to transport them to the North Eleuthera airport.
Bus awaits hurricane victim evacuees from the Abacos to transport them to the North Eleuthera airport.

Giving further detail on some of the groups involved in the combined effort, Mr. Mackey outlined, “Wednesday morning, there was a meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office between NGO’s and some other strategic partners.  The government has enlisted the assistance of some of these NGO’s.  What’s happening here in North Eleuthera is a collaboration between NEMA, HeadKnowles, One Eleuthera and others, including the North Eleuthera Council, the Harbour Island Council, as well as myself as the Member of Parliament.  We’ve come together as a comprehensive team to execute what we are trying to accomplish.”