Hurricane Irene wreaks havoc in The Bahamas

first_img 305 Views   no discussions Share NewsRegional Hurricane Irene wreaks havoc in The Bahamas by: – August 27, 2011 Share Sharecenter_img Tweet Sharing is caring! Hurricane Irene’s winds tore down utility poles throughout New Providence. (Photo: Nassau Guardian)NASSAU, Bahamas — Hurricane Irene started its exit from The Bahamas on Thursday night, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.While New Providence and Grand Bahama were spared the full force of the storm, many Family Islands, particularly the southeastern and central islands, were pummelled, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported.The centre of the storm passed over Eleuthera and Abaco for much of Thursday.Power lines and telecommunications lines went down in some islands, as the category three storm roared across the archipelago.But no loss of life or injuries were reported.Damage on Cat Island, Rum Cay, Crooked Island, Acklins and Mayaguana is expected to be in the millions of dollars, as hundreds of homes, churches, other buildings and infrastructure were either damaged or destroyed.According to NEMA reports, all the islands were impacted in some way.In New Providence, fallen trees and damaged roofs constituted most of the damage.In Lovely Bay, Acklins, 90 percent of the settlement is reportedly gone, according to NEMA.“House roofs and several homes [were] blown away. Power lines and trees went down in the roads, and the shelter’s population increased,” said a NEMA statement.Communication on that island was limited on Thursday.Meteorologist Godfrey Burnside said the Automatic Weather Station in Arthur’s Town, Cat Island, recorded gusts of 140 miles per hour around 2 am on Thursday, and Moss Town, Exuma, recorded gusts up to 127 miles per hour.“That is significant and that is why you hear all the damage taking place,” Burnside said.Just over two inches of rain had fallen at Lynden Pindling International Airport at 9 am Thursday, and more was expected.NEMA said it received reports that 40 houses received major damage in the communities of Betsy Bay, Pirate Wells and Abraham’s Bay on Mayaguana.Concerns were also expressed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police John Ferguson in reference to three people detained at a police station there, NEMA said.On Cat Island, hurricane force winds brought down scores of power lines and left the island without any form of telecommunication, NEMA reported.NEMA also received reports that the administrator’s home in north Cat Island lost its roof.Areas in Arthur’s Town and Dumfries flooded. The roof of the police station in Arthur’s Town was blown off and police vehicles were flooded. St Andrew’s Church also lost its roof, NEMA reported.In Rum Cay, which is home to about 100 people, NEMA received a report that homes have major damage, roads are impassable due to fallen trees and the bridge in Port Nelson is lost.According to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), residents in most islands with the exception of Inagua — where power was restored to the majority of customers — continued to experience outages up to Thursday night due to controlled power station shut downs or downed power lines.NEMA said at least one school was damaged on Crooked Island.The school in Colonel Hill lost its roof and two classroom blocks. Additionally, St John’s Baptist Church and several other buildings also lost their roofs.That island experienced winds around 120 miles per hour, according to NEMA.Long Island Administrator Jordan Ritchie said the main concern was flooding in Clarence Town.However, a number of homes and St Paul’s Anglican Church received roof damage.Meantime, Central Eleuthera Administrator Chrisfield Johnson said based on initial reports, Eleuthera fared relatively well.“So far we haven’t had loss of life. There is some structural damage to buildings but we haven’t done an assessment so we don’t know the extent,” he told The Nassau Guardian on Thursday evening.It was still too dangerous to go out, he said.“The only thing that remains is to do an assessment of the environment,” Johnson said.“There is a tremendous amount of debris on the roads. Our first priority is to clear the streets, so we’re putting together a team of workers to clear the streets to give us access.”He said he would determine the severity of the impact of Irene sometime Friday, when he expected to be able to conduct a door-to-door assessment.NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell said NEMA is still determining how it will access the affected islands, as transportation may be limited over the next few days.In Nassau, Hurricane Irene destroyed the straw market tent and damaged vendor goods, likely forcing the government to accelerate plans to open the new market.When The Nassau Guardian visited the old market, most of the main market tent cover had been blown off.Many vendors kept their goods in plastic bags on tables in the market during the storm. Those bags were blown to the ground and were in water after the most intense winds that hit New Providence passed on Thursday. Some of the market stalls were also damaged during the storm.The vendors were scheduled to move into the new market, also on Bay Street, next month.Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette and his wife Robin took a look at the damage during a personal tour of the area.“There is some good and some bad,” Symonette said.“Hopefully it will speed up the completion of the new market. Also as September comes it is traditionally a slow season for tourism. So, hopefully we will be able make some adjustments and get towards the new market.”As The Nassau Guardian toured the old market, large waves in the harbour breached the seawall, sending sea water toward the site.Waves also damaged the floorboards of the deck of the nearby Senor Frogs restaurant. The deck extends out into the harbour.A portion of the restaurant’s roof, which held up its logo, also fell during the storm. It lay smashed, blocking the hurricane shutter-secured front door of the restaurant.About one mile east of Senior Frogs, the dock and several boats at Harbour Central Marina were damaged after two harbour pilot tug boats that were secured broke loose and crashed at the dock during the storm.There was also a significant amount of debris along the main Bay Street strip as a result of the storm.A portion of the temporary wooden barrier near the former site of Betty K. Agency’s Ltd., which was destroyed by fire on Valentine’s Day, was also blown down.In the meantime, The Bahamas’ busiest airport reopened Friday morning, giving hundreds of stranded visitors access to outbound flights after Hurricane Irene forced the closure of the Lynden Pindling International Airport.John Terpstra, vice president of operations at the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), said the aim was for a 7 am opening.“We’re doing everything in our power to be ready to open,” he said. “The damage was very minimal in the brand new terminal, almost no damage at all. One ceiling tile fell down [and] we have some minor water leaks underneath the doorways… and in the old terminal, we have the same water leaks we have come to know and love.”The Lynden Pindling International Airport closed Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the category three hurricane.According to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism, the hurricane passed 60 miles to the east of the major tourist centers of Nassau and Paradise Island and 100 miles east of Grand Bahama IslandThe airport in Grand Bahama was also expected to be back in operation Friday morning, with assessments of airports throughout the other islands still underway.Many large resorts remained operational during the storm.All guests staying at the Sandals Royal Bahamian were moved to the resort’s Windsor Building as an extra precaution, resort officials confirmed. The property also outfitted its ballroom with beds, food and beverages and an entertainment section.And the resort wasn’t alone.“The country’s largest resort, Atlantis, accommodated some 6,000 guests during the storm and is fully operational,” said the release. “Other resorts in The Bahamas will be open for business as early as [Friday].”Travelers are advised to either check for updates or contact their prospective hotel, airline or cruise line for information.Cruise ports in Nassau and Grand Bahama were expected to reopen Thursday evening and ships are anticipated to resume calls as early as Saturday morning.Those rerouted cruise ships would have brought with them close to $2 million in total spend, with tourism officials not expecting a return in that business until the weekend.According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Tourism, the initial loss projection as a result of Hurricane Irene is around $1.84 million.“At this time, it is definitely a loss for us,” Carla Stuart, the ministry’s director of cruise development, said earlier, “because the weather is aiming directly at us and it’s such a short notice, but generally that’s what we’re seeing. This would have been a very good week for us.”Caribbean News Nowlast_img