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Bracing for Irma’s wrath

More than 300 refused to leave southern islands
  • An image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showing the location and projected path of Hurricane Irma at 8 p.m. last night. Photo: NOAA

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Sep 08, 2017

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As Hurricane Irma roared toward them yesterday, some residents in the southern Bahamas who ignored the prime minister’s warning that they should leave or risk death or serious physical harm, insisted they are acting on faith, with some even saying they are not afraid to die, if that is God’s will.

With emergency services personnel evacuated from those islands, and the storm packing winds of more than 170 miles per hour, there were widespread fears about the safety of those who chose to stay.

In all, more than 300 people were still in the southern Bahamas, officials reported. They included just under 200 on Inagua.

More than 500 people left Inagua on Wednesday.

Forecasters projected Inagua will be among the islands hardest hit by the Category 5 storm.

Irma was bearing down on the southern Bahamas last night.

Ahead of the storm’s arrival yesterday, Inagua businesswoman Evamae Palacious said she is not afraid of Irma.

“I’m not worried. I’m not scared because I believe that God has this storm in control, and we are well taken care of,” Palacious said.

“There is no need for us to worry. As long as we trust in God, everything will be okay.”

Palacious, who planned to ride out the storm with her husband, said those people who left were “intimidated”.

“I think those people were more intimidated by what they heard on the television and the radio, so they decided that they wanted to leave,” she said.

“We are fine. I trust in God, and the same God that is in Nassau is in Inagua as well.

“So what is to be will be. If this is the way that God will have me to die, then I will die.

“Other than that, God is in control.”

A total of 1,223 people left Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay (MICAL) and Ragged Island on Wednesday.

Randolph “Casper” Burrows, another Inagua resident who stayed behind, said he sent his wife and infant daughter to New Providence.

“To my knowledge, one of the casualties in one of the islands in the Caribbean was a baby where a structure they were in was compromised, and I guess they were trying to move from one place to the next and the baby lost its life,” he said.

“My wife is quite comfortable leaving me, because she knows that my heart is here.

“I am ready, willing and able to help as best I can. Everybody can’t leave. This is my island. Others may come to help, like the defense force officers or police officers, but this my home.”

Burrows, 41, has spent most of his life on Inagua.

“When I was in Freeport, work had me there. When I was in Nassau, work had me there. But I was still living here,” he said.

Over on Crooked Island, some 30 residents remain.

Cyril “Chet” Gibson, who lives on New Providence but grew up on Crooked Island, said he was visiting family on the island when the evacuation order was made.

“I came home to do some fishing,” he said.

“I said there wasn’t any use of me running to Nassau. So I decided to stay.

“I’m not afraid of a hurricane. I’ll be here.

“I’m not worried. This storm is moving fast. The biggest thing we’ve experienced here was the water that Joaquin brought.”

Kirkwood McKinney said his wife, daughter and grandchildren left the island on Wednesday.

“Everyone couldn’t leave at the same time,” he said.

“Someone has to be here to secure the property. Not that I’m worrying about the house. But everyone can’t leave at the same time.

“I’m going to play it safe and I’m going to move to higher ground at the shelter. We don’t know what impact we will have.”

McKinney said his father, who lives near the waterfront, has refused to move.

“It is what it is,” he said.

More than 300 residents in the southern Bahamas refused to leave, officials said.


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