Lundy Concludes Abaco Visit With Assurances

Minister Lundy (left) during a stop at the Treasure Cay Debris and Waste Management Site. The delegation also toured the Spring City and Green Turtle Cay Debris and Waste Management Sites to assess work being done at those locations. Also pictured (second left) are: Mr. Alex Storr, Chairman, Disaster Reconstruction Authority which has oversight of all three operations, and Mr. Aarone Sargent, (foreground), Managing Director, Disaster Reconstruction Authority. (BIS PHOTO)
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Marsh Harbour, Abaco, The Bahamas – Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Disaster Risk Management, the Hon. Leon Lundy, concluded his two-day Official Visit to Abaco with an assurance that disaster risk managers and planners are putting the necessary mechanisms in place to mitigate (lessen) the impacts of natural disasters such as hurricanes on local communities – country-wide.

Minister Lundy (left) during a stop at the Treasure Cay Debris and Waste Management Site. The delegation also toured the Spring City and Green Turtle Cay Debris and Waste Management Sites to assess work being done at those locations. Also pictured (second left) are: Mr. Alex Storr, Chairman, Disaster Reconstruction Authority which has oversight of all three operations, and Mr. Aarone Sargent, (foreground), Managing Director, Disaster Reconstruction Authority. (BIS PHOTO)

This includes ensuring that the psychological, emotional and physical well-being of Bahamians who have been negatively impacted by storms in the past, are addressed as best as possible.

State-Minister Lundy spent Thursday (February 22), and Friday (February 23) in Abaco on the second leg of what is expected to be a country-wide mission designed to promote preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery, ahead of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season that begins June 1 and ends November 30.

His first stop was in Grand Bahama (February 15-16).  The messaging will go beyond the 2024 Hurricane Season.

The decision to launch the Official Visits in Grand Bahama and Abaco was based on the fact that Grand Bahama and Abaco have been impacted by more hurricanes than any other area in the region – Category 5 Hurricane Dorian being the latest. Abaco, in particular, has experienced more major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) than anywhere else in the region over the past 175 years according to data collected and assessed over that timeframe.

During his stay in Abaco, Minister Lundy met with disaster managers and planners at the government and community levels, in addition to residents, business-owners and other stakeholders – the latter of which took place during a Town Hall Meeting.

Accompanied by Dr. Marcellus Taylor, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Risk Management; Mr. Alex Storr, Chairman, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA); Mr. Aarone Sargent, Managing Director, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority; Captain Stephen Russell, Director, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and Mr. Cyprian A. Gibson, Deputy General Manager, the Water and Sewerage Corporation, along with technical teams from the DRA and Water and Sewerage, the State-Minister and his teams conducted assessments.

Mr. Lundy said the Town Hall Meeting allowed for an exchange of views on the way forward for the island as part of the government’s “holistic approach” that includes “buy-in” from all stakeholders.

“The main focus is that we have to have preparedness,” State-Minister Lundy said. “We have a hurricane season coming up. We want to make sure that everyone is prepared. That everyone is on the same page. That everyone has buy-in. That everyone understands the direction in which the government wants to go, where we want to make sure that it is fundamentally sound the way we react recover, but also how we prepare for a storm. That we are doing what we have to do on our side. That we are going to get the shelters ready; that we are going to ensure that they are internationally sound and ready to move forward. That this train is moving in the right direction and that we are going to get it done.

State-Minister Lundy said the merging of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), and the Disaster Management Unit (DMU) into the Disaster Risk Management Authority (DRM Authority) will enhance the Davis Administration’s efforts to better serve Bahamian communities before, during and in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Under the new Authority, emergency services will also be improved to better assist the population with responses to natural disasters. These include “highly vulnerable” populations such as women, children, persons with disabilities and older adults.

The DRM Authority is anticipated to move into new office accommodations in the “near future” that will allow for a more coordinated approach in its planning, activities and functions.

“Our job as the new DRM Authority is to make sure that we are ready for any major disaster that happens,” Mr. Lundy said. “Dorian taught us many lessons.  I want to make sure that all Bahamians know that we are in this together and that we are going to make sure that everybody feels safe; that we are going to do our best to mitigate, that we are going to do our best to prepare for any storm and make sure that we minimize any damage.”

State-Minister Lundy said the next Official Visit will take place in the southern Bahamas where Technical Teams from the government agencies responsible for Disaster Risk Management have installed and commissioned the first set of 28 new generators that are to be installed in approved emergency storm shelters in various islands.

Generators have been earmarked to be installed in 20 shelters across the archipelago ahead of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season, scheduled to officially begin in June 1, as part of the Administration’s year-round focus on mitigation, preparation, response and recovery to natural disasters.

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