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Bahamas escapes Irma's wrath

  • Inagua All-Age School sustained roof damage. Photo courtesy of RBPF

Guardian Staff Reporters
jayme@nasguard.com & sloan@nasguard.com

Published: Sep 09, 2017

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Residents across The Bahamas are breathing a sigh of relief following the passage of Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 22 people across the Caribbean, but left The Bahamas relatively unscathed, according to initial reports coming in.

Police Superintendent James Moss, a resident of Inagua in the southern Bahamas, said though Irma battered the island with howling winds and heavy rain, residents count themselves among the lucky.

“We thought it would have been worse,” he said.

“Between 2 a.m. and 6 a .m. this morning it was quite an experience to hear the winds bustling against the house and the seas and the rain; it was quite an experience. It was my first time with an experience of that magnitude with the gale force winds.”

As terrifying as it was to hear those howling winds, Irma was not as monstrous as Moss and other residents expected.

“I think we were very, very lucky… God answered our prayers.”

Chief Meteorological Officer Geoffrey Greene said the eye of Irma passed almost directly over Inagua as a powerful category 4 storm. The majority of residents in Inagua were evacuated ahead of the storm.

Residents of Mayaguana, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Bimini were also evacuated. National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Stephen Russell said the damage in the southeastern Bahamas was expected to be catastrophic.

Moss who, along with Defence Force Lieutenant Elizabeth Simms, carried out assessments on the island, said a number of homes near Inagua’s coastline sustained roof damage.

“We’ve cleared Gregory Street, which is the main thoroughfare in Inagua as far as the lighthouse, through to the airport,” Moss said. “The strip has been checked. There is no debris

“The clinic here has some roof damage. The Inagua All Age School has roof damage to the administrative block and to their classrooms.”

He said there are no reports of injuries or loss of life.

Simms shared similar sentiments.

“[We’re breathing]a sigh of relief,” she said.

“It was said that Irma would be a lot worse, but Inagua fared well. We only have minimal roof damage.” 

She added that there are about 20 downed utility poles and power lines.

“But nothing major and most importantly no lives were lost,” Simms said.

Alecia Ferguson, a mother of two young girls, was in Farmer’s Hill, Exuma,.

She told The Nassau Guardian that the island only experienced heavy winds but not much rain.

A major concern Ferguson had was the possibility of flooding. She and many others experienced flooding during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“Last year wast extremely bad,” Ferguson said.

“[I had] some damage to my home especially the roof.

“The Forest settlement was flooded for a few days and we weren’t able to get out, but the community came together and made side roads so that we could get out. 

“Phone lines were down and electricity was off for over a week.”

She said most people across the island made the necessary preparations for Irma.

“Exumians did not take this storm for granted,” she said.

“Everyone battened up for the storm.”

San Salvador resident Enrica Bodie, 24, said like Exuma, the island only experienced heavy winds and slight rain.

“People here were kind of afraid,” Bodie said.

“But I mean, nothing big has happened here at all.

“I guess we were spared.

“People were prepared though. People were ready.”

At 8 p.m., Irma was forecasted to continue to move near the north coast of Cuba and the central Bahamas tonight and Saturday, and be near the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula Sunday morning.

Maximum sustained winds were near 155 miles per hour with higher gusts.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.

Crooked Island Administrator Leonard Dames reported that there was some roofing and building damage to the island’s high school, and some shingles missing off some homes in Colonel Hill and Cabbage Hill.

“The airport is clear,” he said.

“Whatever debris was on the airport road has been moved, so the airport is operational. Landrail Point, that’s from one end of the island to in the middle, the roads are passable.

“So far the damage is minimal.”

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