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DRA PS: Covid-19 Curtailed Hurricane Preparations

Nine months after Hurricane Dorian battered Abaco and Grand Bahama, killing more than 70 people and leaving countless others unaccounted for, Permanent Secretary of the Disaster Response Authority Carl Smith took offense to any suggestion that nothing is happening on the ground in Abaco, the hardest-hit island.

“One of the previous reporters indicated that nothing has happened on the ground. Let's not exaggerate. A great deal has happened and is happening and while DRA is doing quite a bit, our international partners and our local partners, for example Bahamas Red Cross, has repaired quite a number of homes in Grand Bahama and the Abacos”, said Smith.

He continued, “Many of our international partners have themselves repaired the homes so let us be grateful. Let us not say that nothing has happened.”

Smith, who seemed defensive as he fielded questions from reporters during the press conference this afternoon, also seemed to blame COVID-19 for hampering hurricane preparations, saying the public must be reminded that in preparing for hurricane season, the country is faced with the coronavirus.

Smith is a retired PS, who is now back as a consultant.

“Given COVID-19, our plans to prepare for the hurricane season and to reconstruct and have buildings ready have been curtailed in many ways, one of them being that we have not been able to source building materials from abroad. So again, let us do our part, let us cooperate,” said Smith.

“The government has no desire, no one has any desire to cause harm, not provide for, to ignore anybody but let's be sensible. And bear in mind as I started to speak that we have settlements not only in Grand Bahama and Abaco, but right here in New Providence, in Eleuthera, in Andros, illegal settlements. Some with Bahamian nationals, understand that, but undocumented and everybody knows the efforts that have been made by the government of the Bahamas to regularize them in a very humane way.”

“And recognize too that the disaster that we faced with Hurricane Dorian, the results that we got was in large measure due to illegal settlements being in the heart of Marsh Harbour, Abaco. And everybody knows the results,” said Smith.

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