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Breaking News:

Foulkes suggests govt may eventually provide for mandatory evacuations

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Sep 08, 2017

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After more than 300 residents in the southern Bahamas refused to heed the government’s evacuation order ahead of Hurricane Irma, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday that the government may have to look at creating a mandatory evacuation law.

Foulkes, who is assisting the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) with evacuations, said there is nothing the government can do to force people to leave those islands being threatened by Irma.

“The only thing we can do is urge them to leave,” he said.

“There is no law where we can mandate that they leave.

“Maybe that is something the government can look at. This is the most dangerous storm recorded in history.”

The southern Bahamas started to feel the impact of Irma late yesterday.

The Category 5 storm has wind speeds up to 175 miles per hour

According to officials, just under 200 people remained on Inagua, 100 on Acklins and 70 on Mayaguana.

A total of 1,223 people were evacuated to New Providence from those islands on Wednesday.

Foulkes said many residents find it “emotionally difficult to leave their homes”.

“I called and spoke with a lady in Acklins who lives by the water and I pleaded with her trying to persuade her to leave,” Foulkes said.

“She said, ‘Mr. Foulkes, I’m in God’s hands, and nothing is going to happen to me’.”

Many residents who decided to remain in the southern Bahamas said they trust in God.

Inagua businesswoman Evamae Palacious said yesterday that she’s “not scared because I believe that God has this storm in control and we are well taken care of”.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis ordered an emergency evacuation of the southern islands of The Bahamas.

Minnis said those residents who stay behind “place themselves in potentially great danger from this monster hurricane”.

“Do not put your life and those of your loved ones at unnecessary risk,” Minnis urged.

“Do not be foolish and try to brave out this monster storm.”

While in opposition, Minnis said a Free National Movement government would implement mandatory evacuations.

“The FNM is more concerned with safety and quality of life, and we would do whatever is necessary to ensure that the Bahamians are safe and lives are safe,” Minnis said at the time.


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