Latest Update: (Sunday, Sept. 8th, 2019)
NEMA Briefing on Abaco and Grand Bahama
1. There is no mandatory evacuation order for Abaco.
2. Evacuation is strictly voluntary.
3. The total number of evacuees to Nassau is approximately 3,500 so far.
4. There were a number of partners running evacuations today, including Bahamasair, Delta Airlines, Western Air, Trans Island Air, Air Bridge and other private partners. The Bahamas Fast Ferries and private boaters also executed sea evacuations.
5. The number of persons presenting themselves for evacuations is diminishing.
6. Evacuees are being processed at The Odyssey Aviation Processing Centre. We thank our private sector partners who are working with Social Services to manage this center.
7. As a reminder, all evacuations should be free of charge. The public should report any aircraft that are charging fees. Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority is revoking authorizations for those aircraft.
8. The evacuation plan is to provide temporary housing in Abaco to assist those persons who wish to stay on the island.
9. Several safe spaces have been identified to clear areas for temporary housing
NOTICE ON SEARCH AND RECOVERY IN ABACO
1. NEMA and its partners have not commenced any mass scale debris cleaning in Abaco.
2. Search and recovery is still being conducted, particularly in Marsh Harbour.
3. We are aware of rumors about bulldozing in The Mud. These reports are false.
4. NEMA has directed a 50 member team from The United States Agency for International Development /Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) to work with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to do a systematic sweep of the island.
5. The island has been put on a grid system and the recovery team will check each section for persons who are still alive, any bodies that need to be recovered, and to check for hazardous materials.
6. Only after each sector is cleared will NEMA and its partners move to the next phase of operations, which includes debris removal.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
1 – We are confident there is adequate coverage on both islands to address safety and security issues.
2 – On Grand Bahama, there were 666 Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers. These figures include police reserves.
3 – In Abaco, there are 274 Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers.
4 – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) responding to our request for support.
5 – On Abaco, there are 33 Jamaican Defence Force Officers assisting in securing operations. There are 122 officers from Trinidad and Tobago who will be phased into Grand Bahama during the week.
– When evacuees arrive in Nassau they are processed at the Processing Centre at Odyssey Aviation.
– Evacuees are then taken to homes of families and friends, or a shelter.
– The status of current shelters:
o The Kendal Isaacs Gym – 422 people (full)
o Fox Hill Community Shelter – 202 people
o Calvary Baptist Shelter – 91 people
o Salvation Army – 50 people
o Pilgrim Baptist Church in St James Road – 95 people
o And another centre opened this morning in Adelaide (Sept 8).
– TOTAL PEOPLE PLACED at 10am Saturday, Sept 8th = 860
FOOD AND WATER SUPPLIES
NEMA continues to work with local and international public and private sector entities to ensure that food and water are provided to the affected communities on Abaco and Grand Bahama.
As at 5pm September 8, 2019, arrangements have been put in place for:
• Royal Caribbean to provide between 10,000 -20,000 hot meals per day to persons in Grand Bahama. NEMA is augmenting these hot meals with non-perishable relief supplies.
• The Island Administrator is to receive food and water for approximately 500 persons who are on Moore’s Island
• Hands for Hunger and World Central Kitchen will distribute 2,000 hot meals to persons in Little Abaco starting September 9, 2019
• Royal Bahamas Defence Force is delivering food, water and tarps to residents in Copper’s Town and North Abaco
• World Food Programme and Samaritan’s Purse distributing 12,000 The Meal, Ready-to-Eat – commonly known as the MRE to 1,000 families in Marsh Harbour
(Saturday, Sept. 7th, 2019) NEMA Announces a NOTAM Issuance in Update On Abaco Relief Operations
In a Saturday evening update, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas provided specific information on ongoing activities in Abaco. They specified the Emergency Management Operations, provided specifics on evacuees being sheltered in New Providence, and addressed several issues associated with Civil Aviation, announcing that to-date 200 planes have been authorized by Civil Aviation Authority to access the now restricted air space over Grand Bahama and Abaco.
The release issued as of 6pm on Saturday evening, September 7th, 2019 was as follows:
“Emergency Management Operations in Abaco
– Relief operations in Abaco are managed by the local Emergency Operations Centre; however, ground operations have been hampered because of the Hurricane’s impact on local staff.
– Support personnel are being deployed to adequately staff the Abaco EOC. The Abaco EOC is now headed by Permanent Secretary Jack Thompson.
– NGOs heading to Abaco are asked to coordinate with the EOC office for status reports and information on deployments to areas in need.
– NEMA’s plan for Mass Care and Shelter stretches from Abaco to Grand Bahama to New Providence. The plan is to set up temporary housing in the affected islands and in New Providence.
– At the moment, shelter operations are based around housing for evacuees from the Abaco Islands. Approximately 2,500 people have been evacuated from the various islands, with the majority coming from Abaco.
* 370 evacuee at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium Shelter
* 300 additional people processed at the Odyssey Aviation processing center; they will be transported to the Gym
* 60 people are processed for the Salvation Army Shelter on Mackey Street
* Fox Hill Shelter is at capacity with 300 people.
* The Calvary Baptist Shelter is at capacity with 60 people
* The Bain and Grant’s Town Salvation Army has availability and is working with NEMA
* We are appealing to the public to open up their homes to provide shelter to evacuees. Interested persons can contact NEMA Shelter Coordinator Leonard Cargill (823-5413 or 323-1398).
* We are confident that we will increase our shelter capacity as we already have local NGO partners who have registered with us to offer their assistance.
* We are tapping this network to also supplement the number of cots we need for our shelters.
– In Abaco, we are mobilizing resources to set up temporary housing on the ground for persons impacted by the storm, as well as relief workers who are flying in.
– NEMA is in communication with its local and international partners to implement mass sheltering options. We are finalizing locations that are adequate for this purpose. We expect to use a number of different types of shelters, including tents, container homes and possibly accommodation barges.
Civil Aviation Issues Notice on Flight Authorizations
• The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Air Men) to improve the management of the airspace to prevent accidents. The saturated airspace was creating a volatile situation.
• The recent notice means airspace is restricted over Grand Bahama and the Abacos. Only aircraft providing emergency and humanitarian relief authorized by Civil Aviation are able to fly in the restricted airspace. Over 200 private planes have already been authorized by BCAA. The application form is available on line at the NEMA website: www.bahamas.gov.bs
Civil Aviation has had to clamp down on flights charging for evacuations
• No flights are currently authorized to charge fees for evacuations.
• Civil Aviation is aware of reports of commercial activity and will be revoking the flight authorizations of aircraft found to be charging fees.
• Civil Aviation staff is on the ground to monitor and identify aircraft suspected of breaching the conditions of their authorization. This includes flights that are found to be bringing sightseers instead of relief support.
• Consumer Protection will also be investigating reports from residents who have already been charged, including incidences of price gouging.”
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)
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